England Cracks Down On Unacceptable Internet Speech

We have been following (here and here and and and here and and here and here) the worsening situation in England concerning free speech. As noted in a recent column, free speech appears to be dying in the West with the increasing criminalization of speech under discrimination, hate, and blasphemy laws. The article below details the crackdown on Internet speech in the country from charging a teenager who made offensive comments about a murder to a man who burned a paper poppy, the symbol of the war dead.

England appears to be on a sharp plunge into censorship and speech crimes. It is a cautionary tale as the West embraces more and more forms of speech regulation. Once in the business of criminalizing speech, these countries find themselves on a slippery slope where more and more speech is declared as unacceptable.

The Associated Press found that the prosecutions for electronic communications rose from 1,263 in 2009 to 1,843 in 2011. We previously discussed the case of Paul Chambers who was prosecuted for complaining about airport closures due to snow.
In October, 19-year-old Matthew Woods was sentenced to 12 weeks in jail for sending offensive tweets about a missing 5-year-old girl.

It is particularly unsettling to see our close cousins in England descend into speech controls. Liberals have long been the advocates of free speech but appear to have developed a taste for censorship and speech crimes — a taste fast becoming an insatiable appetite. The rationale has changed from orthodoxy to pluralism. People are now prosecuted in the name of tolerance. Civil libertarians in England are fighting back but losing ground (despite a couple of favorable court rulings in speech cases).

As an offshoot of that once great English oak, it is particularly unsettling for us to watch this trend from this side of the pond. What is most unsettling is the relative passivity of the English people and the lack of any real debate over this trend in English law. The global community of civil libertarians needs to support those fighting this trend toward criminalization of speech and support our English colleagues.

Source: Fox

31 thoughts on “England Cracks Down On Unacceptable Internet Speech

  1. “Who in their right mind would abduct a ginger kid?”

    In another he said: “I woke up this morning in the back of a transit van with two beautiful little girls, I found April in a hopeless place.”

    He also wrote: “Could have just started the greatest Facebook argument EVER. April fools, who wants Maddie? I love April Jones.”

    justagurlinseattle – yes I think it is okay. Is it right? Wrong? I don’t know or care. Is it offensive? Obviously to a lot of people – but that doesn’t mean he should be arrested for it. People’s religious beliefs often offend me, and my anti-religious beliefs offend many… If suddenly we put people in jail for being offensive, everybody would be there.

  2. Leejcarrol,

    Well said.

    That slope is like climate change. And then Sandy hits you. Soon there will be possums in NYC due to warming.

    And 1984 will not be ushered in by a great ceremony. Only
    statute by statute, word by word, taser by taser.

  3. Jude,

    Quickly I’m in and gone…..

    Your words on causing offense, but not arrest….

    Reminds me of Lenny Bruce: he offended lots of folks, and got arrested for it. But he pointed to the lies and the truth. Who knows what this “man in the van” was pointing at. If something offends you, be thankful and reflect upon why.

  4. Tony C: “Your communications are not “secure” if you do not know the person you are talking to is an FBI agent, FBI plant, or is cooperating with the FBI to prevent a complete ruination of their life.”

    OK, this covers people. But most data is files. Meshnet technology also allows what should be a part of the internet but is not: verification the receiver is who you intend.

    Were it not for this level of paranoia, meshnets would not be needed.

    “Wake up and face reality. There is no easy fix.”

    I never claimed there. was, so please to moderate your condescension. There will be much push-back but to no avail. Govt will have to seize control of electrons in the air. Do you think they are quite that far along yet?

    Idealist707:”Communicating within an island is fine, but then comes the day that the rest of the internet bans you. Your connections will be blocked.”

    The islands are temporary. Once a critical mass of the them overlap and are always-on, there won’t be any “rest of the internet.” This technology is designed to bypass ISPs on purpose. I have begun using it, and it works quite well. Understand smart phones changed the game. Each one is capable of being a mini-ISP but carriers deliberately dial them back. Once unleashed, they will give us a viable alternative to the top-down internet that was never intended to be so.

    Or shall we just give in?

  5. http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/27/the-frightening-things-you-hear-at-a-black-hat-conference/

    July 27, 2012

    The Frightening Things You Hear at a Black Hat Conference


    “ONLINE CENSORSHIP IS GETTING WORSE. “The Internet is becoming less and less flat everyday,” Dan Kaminsky said in a talk Wednesday. Mr. Kaminsky vaulted to fame in 2008 after he uncovered a dangerous flaw in the basic plumbing of the Internet. His next project: ridding the Internet of censorship. “I.S.P.’s and governments are altering content on the Internet every day and, in most cases, it’s done silently,” he said. Mr. Kaminsky said he had been working with anticensorship groups to improve censorship detection by crowdsourcing it to a much larger pool of developers. “My goal is not to run a censorship detection service but to provide what’s already out there by funneling in a much larger data stream and doing it on a much larger scale.””

  6. The expansive use of the word “data” is annoying. A lot of times the schmuck will pronounce it as: daaata not datea. The schmuck is usually some officious fart who is chimning in on a topic that he/she purports to be in command of.

  7. Just, it’s not a good idea to tell cops they’re acting like children….either.:)

    Under some circumstances that can be an exceedingly poor choice of words..

    Especially when the speaker had just recently himself been acting like an 8 year old. …..OOPs.

  8. Shano,

    I bookmarked that, plus the article in the guardian. In my small world of comprehending global politics, this is the first time I have heard the voice of Palestinian youth and their concern for their future. It went directly to my brain, and immediately to my heart. Sometimes truth is so pure, the filters of cynicism in my brain are not necessary.

    One quote:
    “sick of the indifference we meet from the international community, the so-called experts in expressing concerns and drafting resolutions but cowards in enforcing anything they agree on”

    Old rigid repetitiously deluded minds, have chosen the “status quo” as their playbook. Satisfied with being “right” in the past they plan to be equally satisfied in the future by repeating their mistakes.This is SAD.

    Youth sees the stupidity of rigid repetitive thinking. They have not drank long enough at the wells of their fathers ignorance. They have not yet succumbed to the fatalism of their mothers indoctrinated submissions.

    Fly youth be seen be heard, while the body of your innocence can cast a shadow between a shiny future and all these old rigid bricked up souls of expired dreams.

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