Freedom of speech
Freedom of Speech is one of the fundamental building blocks of a well-running democracy. It enables everybody to point out inequalities and problems but also solutions and encourages discussions…
The phrase “there are no dumb questions, only dumb answers” comes exactly from that kind of free thinking – you are allowed to express yourself and to see how others react to it.
If you can’t say what you think you can’t express yourself and you can’t have discussions.
It is a tragic irony that in today’s society most tech companies are not only supportive of censoring free speech, but also create the tools for it. On the other side, it´s the people on the top of the pyramid who benefit the most from suppressing that free thinking to stay on top.
500 years ago people weren’t allowed to say what they want because it was “blasphemy”.
Today people are not allowed to say what they want because of “hate speech”.
History repeats itself again – quite literally before our very eyes in Europe.
Copyright as the reason for censorship
Content providers like Youtube have to filter all uploads to make it “impossible” to upload copyrighted material. – That sounds like a very nice idea if it wasn’t already proven to be ineffective and creating other problems – mainly that content gets flagged as so-called “false positives”
Of course, the EU didn’t care about content that will just get deleted because it raises false flags – just like the German law against hate speech, it doesn’t make it mandatory that you still can get published if your content is just your free expression.
What the EU is essentially doing here is using the copyright laws to justify a censorship infrastructure which the Tech companies of today are glad & willing to build and run. Because as we all know: Information is power and these companies then have the power to shape every discourse that we can have. Regardless if we want to or not.
On first glance that is ofc not what the EU promotes – and I don’t know if it is more insulting to suggest they know what they do or they don’t!
In the end, the argument is that they hold Content Providers like YouTube accountable for everything that gets uploaded and incentivizes to regulate its content more. That is, of course, true – but YouTube is already invested in regulating its own content by the demand of the users and that is not automatically a good thing.
What we really do here:
We build a private police force for the state
The trick here from the EU is that they don’t really deny you your freedom of expression by law, they just put the burden of policing everybody on private companies who in turn can censor whoever and whatever they want. With the EU being able to then say what kind of speech is “hate speech” and what kind of expression is still allowed we get the perfect circumvention of our laws for free expression.
It is not the law that forbids you your expression, it is the company that is bound by law to forbid it.
Companies like Google, YouTube & Twitter often get accused of tilting political discourse in only one direction already – with an infrastructure like the upload filters and the rising of AI to “filter” content we will see a wide range of views “disappear” just because they will no longer be welcome on this platforms. What this does to our political discourse is very clear and we saw it already in the past on numerous occasions. Whenever one side of the political spectrum is suppressing the other, the result is always the same – it does not matter which political side you are on, it is bad for the community you are a part of.
Free speech gets already censored by Content Providers on the basis of “hate speech” and other very abstruse regulations (which they themselves can’t really define most of the time).
We all agree that it is fine because these companies are privately owned – but we have to ask if that is actually still a distinction we can make when we talk about the companies that give us our information and police our communication.
There is a reason why a democracy separates the legislative, judicative and executive power.
It is to prevent an overreach of one of these branches either from the left or the right.
The current trend in tech is like building a private police force for the Online World and that is not a good thing.
The new EU law will make sure that private businesses have to censure free speech if they want to or not – which is a big deal.
This is not only a big problem for platforms like YouTube but it is a problem for the EU itself because an open discourse is what our democracy always needs.