Europe steps up its censorship efforts

The European Commission wants to pay people to help ensure only the kind of information it approves of is allowed to be published online.

The initiative is being called the European Digital Media Observatory and it is the continuation of a digital censorship project the EC has been working on for some time. The stated aim is to counter ‘disinformation’, which is defined as “verifiably false or misleading information that is created, presented and disseminated for economic gain or to intentionally deceive the public.”

On the surface what’s not to like about this? Everyone knows the internet is awash with misleading and biased information that presumably, at least in part, is published with the aim of persuading the public of a certain point of view. If people are given the wrong information then they might make the wrong electoral decisions and that would be bad.

The main problem with censorship is subjectivity. Who decides what is false or misleading and who can possibly be sure of the motives for someone else’s actions? The answer to that question in this case seems to be anyone who fancies €2.5 million of European public money, because today the EC published a call for tenders to create the first core service of this new censor.

“The European Digital Media Observatory will allow fact-checkers and academic researchers to bring together their efforts and actively collaborate with media organisations and media literacy experts,” said the announcement. Don’t worry folks, the experts have got this, you’ll only get the purest, most correct information from now on.

The inclusion of the private sector in this project may be designed to create the impression of neutrality as well as expertise, but whoever wins the tender will be acutely aware of who pays their salary. Can we be sure that suspected disinformation which is helpful to the EU will be treated with the same severity as that which is harmful to it? The best counter to disinformation is public scrutiny, not unilateral censorship.

One comment

  1. Avatar Voxobius 11/06/2020 @ 7:52 am

    I’m leaving this comment here as an epitaph for humanity. The internet was supposed to be free. It was supposed to be a way to simply talk to people you meet about life and the world and asking hard questions like, what is truth? What is real? Y’all think the government is lying? What’s the word.

    I’m posting this after #Covid1984 proved the largest companies believe they can police thought. It’s literal thought police.

    Don’t care what you say about “private business” or whatever. These people run the world. If someone looks back and sees this comment, know that we weren’t all so blind and foolish as you might think we are.

    These censors, attempting to police the communications of billions of ubiquitous digital platforms, are the global equivalent of the Stasi spying on everyone in East Germany. There is no freedom of expression left. Freedom to express a government approved thought is no freedom.

    It’s as if they stationed an agent at every backyard barbeque, family reunion, business conference, and any time somebody came up with a controversial thought, they slapped duct tape over his mouth. Freedom of speech means nothing if it doesn’t protect speech we don’t agree with. Right now it does not protect speech that Big Tech, Big Telecom, and Big Government disagree with. It is a meaningless concept.

    Welcome to the new dark ages.

    Ever seen Minority Report? Where pre-crime is prosecuted?

    Censoring speech on the basis that someone might read it and be inspired to violence is an insane reason to censor speech.

    Freedom of speech is the most fundamental freedom of all.

    Fine, make your little straw man arguments about how you can still discuss things in person, but with no way to be sure that Google, Apple, and Amazon don’t have hot mics all around us, feeding data to the NSA and other agencies, nobody but the most extreme technophobe is likely to feel truly *free* to speak his mind without knowing whether or not he’s being illegally SPIED on.

    Who knows how long this tyranny will last.

    I expect this comment to fall into the deep chasm of unread buried internet comments.

    Do not go silently into that good night, but rage, rage at the dying of the light.

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