The British government is to take to itself the power to ban Google in the UK. And Facebook, Twitter and all the rest.
Good luck with that really. For it betrays a certain lack of knowledge about how the internet works. Which is, you know, to route around such things as censorship? Or, to run the thought the other way, those who can access a VPN get censored how?
Social media sites could be blocked from the UK if they breach proposed new duty of care laws, which will be kick-started on Wednesday.
Baroness Morgan, the Culture Secretary, will tell the Lords that the watchdog Ofcom should be the regulator and get powers to protect children and other users from online harms, as predicted last week by The Daily Telegraph.
The tech giants including Google and Facebook will be expected to quickly remove illegal content linked to terrorism and child abuse and to protect children from potentially harmful material such as that which could encourage suicide and self-harm.
Ministers have yet to decide on the sanctions but a power for Ofcom to require internet service providers (ISPs) to block websites or apps which commit “serious, repeated and egregious violations” of their duty of care remains on the table despite reports last year it might be dropped.
It’s not even something that would work under the law. France tried this with the right to be forgotten. Telling Google that global results must be altered to accord with French law. The European Court of Justice sent the French away with a flea in their ear. Sure, results on Google.FR should accord with French law. And even where it’s obvious and known that Google.com/uk/bg etc is being accessed from a French IP address then it should accord with French law. But for standard general use by the rest of the world then the laws of the rest of the world, not those of France, apply.
Thus anyone with even the most basic location spoofing or VPN can and will get around such geographic restrictions upon content.
Canute was a demonstration of how the earthly power cannot command the tides, you’d think that a thousand years was long enough for a government to understand that, wouldn’t you?