Index on Censorship rejects many of the suggestions made in a report into intimidation of UK public officials by a committee tasked with examining standards in public life.
The report recommends — among other things — creating legislation to make social media companies liable for illegal content and increasing the use of automation to remove content that is not only illegal but “intimidatory.”
“Like many such reports, the report from the Committee on Standards in Public Life makes the mistake of lumping together illegal content, intimidatory content — which the committee itself admits is hard to define — and abusive content,” said Jodie Ginsberg, chief executive of Index on Censorship.
“While some content outlined in the report — such as threats of rape — can clearly be defined as harassing or intimidatory in nature, deciding whether content is illegal or not largely depends on understanding the context — and that is something that neither ‘automated techniques’ nor speedy removals can address.
“We are deeply worried by the growing trend in which democratic governments devolve responsibility for making decisions that should be made by the police or the judiciary to unaccountable private bodies to censor speech.