The Mayor of London has been slammed for allegedly spending taxpayer cash flying to a liberal arts festival in Texas to threaten social media firms with legislation unless they increase censorship.
Sadiq Khan was introduced as the “first elected British politician” to give a keynote address at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas, before his talk on banning so-called “hate speech.”
Well known for his anti-Trump campaigning in the UK, the London mayor received a warm welcome in Austin, a known liberal enclave in an otherwise conservative state.
UKIP London Assembly member David Kurten told Breitbart London that he believed the mayor had wasted taxpayer money and blasted him for using his position to “grandstand around the world and make pronouncements that go way beyond his job of cutting crime and running the buses and tubes.”
“Given the financial hole in Transport for London and the unprecedented rise in rape, murder, knife crime and acid attacks in London he is not doing his job very well.
“It now seems that he has gone on a jolly to Texas at an unknown cost to London’s taxpayers, and is pushing for German-style restrictions on freedom of speech which have been hard won over the centuries in the UK.”
He added: “It may be the case that there are grooming gangs operating in London on a scale far greater than anything yet revealed given the size of the city.”
During the Texas speech, the Mayor read out a series of mean tweets from online trolls directed at him, to “illustrate that big tech has further to go in making the internet free of hate speech”, and said that “young boys and girls from minority backgrounds” could be harmed by the messages.
“And what about young girls and women who are being driven from these platforms — reversing our long fight for gender equality?” he added.
Online platforms, he argued, were in some cases being used to “exacerbate, fuel, and deepen the divisions within our communities” as well as subvert “democracies around the world”.
“We’ve already seen evidence of elections and referendums being influenced and a rise in online abuse, misogyny, and religious hatred,” he claimed.
“Fake-news-spreading misinformation algorithms blinker us from different points of view and push people to extremes, and terrorists and far-right groups using social media to not only conspire but to radicalise and brainwash others.”
In April 2016, shortly after his election as London Mayor, Mr. Khan directed nearly two million pounds in taxpayer funds to a new police “online hate crime hub” to work in “partnership with social media providers” and criminalise “trolls” who “target… individuals and communities”.
Earlier that year, the EU announced that Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Microsoft had “committed” to working more closely with them, national governments, and “their law enforcement agencies” to help “criminalise” perceived “illegal hate speech” online.
Over the following two years, however, the capital experience a huge crime wave on its streets – with violent attacks, murder, and sexual crimes surging. This led to the mayor hiking local taxes by the maximum amount, partly to fund an increase in street policing.
London Mayor Who Said Terrorism ‘Part and Parcel of Living in a City’ Will Now Raise Taxes… To Pay For Counter Terrorism Police https://t.co/qlRW8Jqjux
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) December 22, 2017
In his speech at SXSW, he appeared to threaten that unless social media firms bowed to his demands to censor speech, they could be fined up to 50 million euros, like in Germany, where the government now demands that speech it does not approve of is removed in 24 hours.
Mr. Khan said that if change “doesn’t happen, then more countries will sort of follow or go further than what Germany has done… The German government have changed the law so that social media companies face hefty fines if they fail to quickly remove hate speech, ‘fake news’, and illegal material.”
He added: “If [social media firms] don’t act responsibly, [goverments] will go down the road of Germany and even further and you’ll have people like me being pressurised by the electorate to bring in legislation,” he claimed.
The new German laws have resulted in satire and some right-wing opinions being removed, and critics say they are making tech firms act overly cautious and causing a wider chilling effect on free speech, as people become wary of sharing legitimate views.
However, Mr. Khan insisted: “This isn’t about depriving people of free speech. This is about inciting hatred. This is about… things that divide our communities.”
Mayor Khan: ‘I Can’t Solve London Knife Crime,’ Blames Right Wingers https://t.co/92B7l2yrJW
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 18, 2018
The Mayor also took the time to slam Brexit in his speech, claimed that in “Britain we’re still reeling from the outcome of a referendum to leave the European Union.”
“Sadly we’re only preparing for the economic storm,” he added, linking the vote to leave the bloc to “expressions of unease, fear, and anger and this is evident in the rise in nativism and populism.”
Breitbart London contacted the Mayor of London’s office for comment repeatedly, but they did not reply.