Responding to Theresa May on Free Speech

Google and Facebook among tech giants Theresa May will order to remove extremist content by Rob Merrick.

Theresa May and her cadre of censorious thugs pose a clear and present danger to free speech on the Internet. No news there but the danger she poses has increased.

From the post:

The world’s biggest technology firms will be told to take down terrorist propaganda in as little as one hour, as Theresa May seeks to dramatically reduce the danger of it inspiring further atrocities.

The Prime Minister will also challenge them to develop technology to prevent “evil material” ever appearing on the web, as they are forced to defend their efforts in public for the first time.

Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Twitter are among the firms who will face their critics in New York, having agreed to set up a Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism.

At the heart of the plan is a target for terror propaganda to be taken down within one to two hours – the crucial period during which most of it is disseminated.

My response to Theresa May’s latest assault on free speech doesn’t depend on the “details” of her proposal. Proposing to suppress “terrorist propaganda” and “evil material” is a clear violation of free speech. What is “terrorist propaganda” and “evil material” is left free for individuals to judge for themselves, in a free society.

No one should dignify her assault on free speech by debating the details of how much or what kind of free speech will be suppressed. Her request for censoring of any speech, should be rejected unconditionally.

Sadly Merrick reports that censorship by content now takes 36 hours, as opposed to 30 days a year ago. The tech giants mentioned above, have been laboring mightily to censor the Internet and are no less guilty than Theresa May in that regard.

The loss of free speech has been debated and lamented over that same year, when 30 days of freedom shrank to 36 hours. Or in equivalent terms, going from 720 hours of freedom to only 36, a reduction of 95%.

With a loss of 95% of practical freedom for “terrorist propaganda” and “evil material,” I’d say that lamenting the loss of free speech has been largely ineffectual. You?

Practical Responses to Theresa May and Her Cadre of Internet Censors

If lamenting the loss of freedom of speech (and other rights) on Facebook, Twitter, the web isn’t effectual, what is? What follows are my suggestions, feel free to share yours.

1. Upload/Download “terrorist propaganda” and “evil material” to Torrent Sites

As Robert Graham, @ErrataBob reminds us at: Did You Miss The Macron Leak? @ErrataBob To The Rescue!, a “distributed hash network” preserves files even if the original link has been deleted.

If high tech toadies remove “terrorist propaganda” and “evil material,” from a Torrent download site, the content is preserved on the computers of everyone who has downloaded it.

Uploading and downloading using Torrent is a value-add activity for every user. The larger the group that downloads, the greater the preservation of the content. Enlist your followers/users today!

2. Generate and Share “evil material”

I’ve only looked at a small amount of “evil material” on the Internet but what I have seen, well, I’m not impressed. The “bomb making” recipes I have seen pose almost as much danger to their maker as they do to any intended victims. There is a certain romance to making your own ordinance, but there’s a reason professional armies don’t. Yes?

But pointing out the repetitious and dubious nature of bomb making recipes on the Internet won’t stop Theresa May. That being the case, I suggest prodding her to a fever pitch with imaginative and innovative ways to create chaos.

If you think about it for a few minutes, bombs, cars and guns are the simplest of tools. Defending freedom of speech requires imagination.

Anyone up for war gaming a future event in London? (Speech only, no action.)

3. Governments and Tech Giants Who Support Censorship

For governments, tech giants and staffers supporting censorship of “terrorist propaganda” and “evil material,” we should all draw inspiration from this slightly altered lyric:

In their styes with all their backing
They don’t care what goes on around
In their eyes there’s something lacking
What they need’s a damn good hacking

(with apologies to the Beatles, Piggies

Governments and tech giants have chosen to be censors of free speech. They can just as easily choose to be supporters of free speech.

Their choices dictate how they should be seen and treated by others.

PS: For your image recognition software, Theresa May:

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