Following the stunning announcement that the European Commission is working with major tech companies to squash the online virality of “hate speech”, the Guardian newspaper has implied the Orwellian rules do not go far enough.
Breitbart London reported on the Commission’s announcement of a partnership with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft which will see a crack down on what it classes as “illegal hate speech”. The plans include “criminaliz[ing]” perpetrators and “promoting independent counter-narratives” that the European Union favours.
But the Guardian has suggested the rules don’t go far enough.
In an article published this morning, the paper suggests the new rules – which define hate speech as “all conduct publicly inciting to violence or hatred directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin” – should also cover gender-based harassment.
The Guardian writes:
The code of conduct represents the first major attempt to codify how technology firms should respond to hate speech online. But the limited scope leaves many aspects of online abuse still uncovered: harassment on gender grounds, for instance, is not considered hate speech according to the code of conduct. In Britain, a cross-party campaign launched last week, with Facebook’s backing, is calling for contributions on how to reduce misogynist abuse online.
A press release from the Commission said the new initiative has been set up “to respond to the challenge of ensuring that online platforms do not offer opportunities for illegal online hate speech to spread virally”.
The move has been branded “Orwellian” by Members of the European Parliament, and digital freedom groups have already pulled out of any further discussions with the Commission, calling the new policy “lamentable”.
Campaigners on the left and right of European politics have told Breitbart London of their concerns over the new rules, with the National Secular Society’s Executive Director Keith Porteous Wood telling Breitbart London:
“We fear that the proscription of public incitement of hatred directed against a group of persons, unless defined much more clearly and qualified by freedom of expression safeguards, will create a chilling effect on freedom of expression and will be misused to muzzle it. Social media platforms around the world are frequently accused of censoring critics of Islamism.”
The organisation added: “It is essential for the resolution of problems for criticism of religion or any ideas to continue uninterrupted, provided that does not amount to incitement to violence.”