We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Give us power. We won’t use it, honest.

“Bill C-11 would give CRTC power over user-generated content, but it won’t use it: chair”, reports CityNews Ottawa.

The chair of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission says a federal bill would give it power to regulate user-generated content, such as homemade videos posted on YouTube.

But Ian Scott predicted at a House of Commons committee that this would never happen as the broadcast regulator has no interest in overseeing content produced by individuals.

Even so, critics of the online-streaming bill have seized on his remarks, saying they contradict assurances by Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez that it would not give the regulator power over homemade content, such as cat or cooking videos.

Bill C-11, now going through Parliament, would update Canada’s Broadcasting Act and give the CRTC power to regulate online platforms such as YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Spotify and TikTok, along with traditional broadcasters. It would make digital platforms promote Canadian content, including films, music videos and TV programs, and contribute financially to their creation.

Scott Benzie, executive director of Digital First Canada, said the CRTC chair confirmed what digital-first creators have been saying since the bill was published. They have warned it could give the regulator power over their work, including posts by comedians, animators and gamers on platforms such as YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat and Twitch.

Hat tip: Michael Geist via Ezra Levant.

Give us power. We won’t use it, honest. We just want to keep it to look at. [Checks notes] No, not even to look at. We have no interest in overseeing content produced by individuals. Really, if that doesn’t reassure you I don’t know what will. We are so chilled that power bores us. Now hand it over.

Samizdata quote of the day

“This is the man whom Canadians have thrice elected, which speaks for a country that—with the exception of a courageous and steadfast minority—no longer values its freedoms and traditions. Fear and ignorance triumph over patriotism and reason. Some might be inclined to argue that Canadians had little choice given there was no credible opposition and that vote-heavy Toronto, Montreal and Halifax effectively determine the outcomes of elections in this country. Nonetheless, Trudeau was always a popular favorite despite his autocratic nature and a clear tendency to abuse his office. Trudeau is working to remake Canada in his own tarnished image. He can do no other. That is who he is.”

David Solway

“Legal but harmful”

“The draft Online Safety Bill delivers the government’s manifesto commitment to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online while defending free expression”, says the gov.uk website. It would be nice to think that meant that the Bill would make the UK the safest place in the world in which to defend free expression online.

The text of the draft Bill soon dispels that illusion. Today’s Times editorial says,

In the attempt to tackle pornography, criminality, the promotion of suicide and other obvious obscenities rampant on social media, the bill invents a new category titled “legal but harmful”. The implications, which even a former journalist such as the prime minister appears not to have seen, are worrying.

It is sweet to believe the best of people, but that “appears not to have seen” is either sweet enough to choke on, or sarcasm.

Could they give the censors in Silicon Valley power to remove anything that might land them with a massive fine? That would enshrine the pernicious doctrine of no-platforming into law.

Fraser Nelson, editor of The Spectator, has expressed alarm at what he fears the wording could do to his publication. Any digital publisher who crossed the line might find an article on vaccine safety or on eugenics, or indeed any topic deemed controversial, removed without warning, without trace and without recourse to challenge or explanation. The decision would not be taken by human beings, but by bots using algorithms to pick up words or phrases that fell into a pre-programmed red list.

The editorial continues,

The bill specifically excludes from the category [of “legal but harmful”] existing media outlets. If Facebook or another platform took down an article from a British newspaper without explanation, Ofcom, the media regulator, could penalise the platform.

That’s us bloggers dealt with then. Notice how the article frames the threat to free expression almost entirely in terms of its effect on newspapers. Still, in the current climate I am grateful that the Times has come out against the Bill. If self-interest is what it takes to wake them, then good for self-interest.

However, social media giants operate on a global scale. In any market such as Britain, where they have a huge following and earn billions, they will not risk a fine of 10 per cent of their annual turnover. They will simply remove anything deemed “harmful”, or, to counter the bill, downgrade its visibility or add a warning label. Given that America’s litigious culture will influence those deciding what constitutes harm, this could include political assertions, opinions or anything the liberal left could insist constitutes “fake news”. If Donald Trump can be banned, so can others.

Samizdata quote of the day

“It is not simply scandalous that civil servants and advisers had fun while none of us could; it is scandalous that they were the ones who imposed those rules on us and are yet to apologise for them.”

Marie Le Conte

The Tories are not the solution to anything

“If you don’t vote Tory, then Labour might get in” is the main argument I hear from people when I tell them I live in a very marginal Tory constituency and have no intention of voting Tory again. But frankly the Tories are just Labour with a better wine list, as is made clear in this ghastly article in CrapX by Damian Collins, the ‘Conservative’ MP for Folkestone and Hythe.

Proper regulation won’t suppress freedom of speech online – it will protect it […] Making sure the Online Safety Bill is not a ‘Censor’s Charter’ was also our priority.

Because nothing says “the state will not censor the internet” quite like a bill that enables the state to censor what you can say on online. I seem to be developing a Pavlovian condition that every time Damian Collins opens his mouth, I send a thousand pounds or so to Reform UK.

The work is ongoing

“Daily we work to remove that content online which is both harmful and – particularly when it comes to Covid-19 and vaccinations – which is harmful and provides misinformation and disinformation – Daily, we have those contacts with the online providers, and the work is ongoing.”

Big Brother Watch provided this video clip of Nadine Dorries, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (no, I did not miss out a word after “Digital” and, yes, she often is that incoherent) defending the Conservative government against Labour concerns that the government might not be doing enough censorship.

That is what depresses me most. Not that this semi-secret “Disinformation and Misinformation Unit” that was mentioned in no manifesto and which nobody voted for exists, nor that it it was not euthanised soon after birth as it should have been. Both of those facts are depressing in the way that January weather is depressing, or governments. That part that is extraordinarily depressing is that one cannot look to the Opposition for even the weak disincentive for this behaviour that a hypocritical denunciation would provide. The incentive is in the other direction. Labour and the Conservatives are competing over which of them can be most repressive.

Samizdata quote of the day

“There is a growing Covid industry of companies selling security interventions. Some vaccine manufacturers are enthusiastically promoting repeated boosters. The private gains from PPE sales are so notorious that the Treasury should be considering a war profits tax. There is a burgeoning trade in ventilation and air-filtration equipment. Behind the push for vaccine passports are software companies with digital ID pages in search of customers.”

Robert Dingwall, Daily Telegraph.

The commentary made me think of President Eisenhower’s farewell address about the “Military-Industrial Complex.”

Samizdata quote of the day

I think that the people who operate Facebook and other social media are concerned about facts. That’s why they go out of their way to disappear them

Shlomo Maistre

The unapologetic face of totalitarianism

Lin Jinyue, designer of China’s totalitarian social credit system explain how it would have prevented Gilets Jaunes & any other protests.

(via Alan Miller)

Charged with ‘aggravated misconduct’. For a tweet he made when he was 14.

Here is an extract from the report in today’s Times:

The Middlesbrough defender Marc Bola has been charged by the FA [Football Association] with aggravated misconduct for comments he made on social media when he was 14, nine years ago.

The FA has alleged that Bola, now 23, who signed for Middlesbrough from Blackpool in 2019, posted a ‘reference to sexual orientation.’ He is facing a written warning, an education course or a potential three-game ban for the post from 2012.

An FA statement read: “Middlesbrough FC’s Marc Bola has been charged with misconduct for a breach of FA Rule E3 in relation to a social media post on April 14, 2012.

If, rather than mouthing off on Twitter, the fourteen year old Bola had had the forethought to instead commit a violent crime meriting up four years imprisonment, the sentence would have been considered “spent” by now under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

“The app will contact people at random asking them to provide proof of their location within 15 minutes”

How will South Australia’s home quarantine trial work?

Premier Steven Marshall said he hoped the trial would be expanded to international travellers in “subsequent weeks”, making it a national first.

Those in home-based quarantine will need to download an app, developed by the South Australian Government, to prove they are staying home while required to.

People wanting to return to South Australia and home quarantine will have to apply to SA Health.

They will have to prove they have a place to isolate during their quarantine period and must also be fully vaccinated.

Those who are approved will have to download the South Australian Government home quarantine app, which uses geo-location and facial recognition software to track those in quarantine.

The app will contact people at random asking them to provide proof of their location within 15 minutes.

The report is by Sara Garcia and Rory McClaren of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, via “Australia Traded Away Too Much Liberty” by Conor Friedersdorf at the Atlantic and (for the second time in two days) Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.

Far from being ashamed of this Orwellian project, Premier Steven Marshall says “I think every South Australian should feel pretty proud that we are the national pilot for the home-based quarantine app.”

Social credit in the UK

“There’s a reason that Her Majesty’s government can now afford, politically speaking, to experiment with policies that are native to stratified east Asian states. It’s the very same reason why the Democratic Party here in the States can attempt to spend multiple trillions of dollars during just six months of unified government without any obvious public dismay. Catastrophes are accelerants of government expansion, and the pandemic will go down in history as one in a series of quantum leaps into a more statist world — a world in which governments feel increasingly emboldened to attempt the previously unthinkable.”

Cameron Hilditch, writing in National Review. Quick observation: there would, from a free market sort of view, be nothing necessarily wrong if an insurance company, for example, varies its premiums on clients who have proof that they, for example, keep fit, eat a healthy diet and so on. But that is a transaction freely entered into, and subject to the competition of a market place. Social credit systems on the Chinese model are not like this, however. There is no choice, no opportunity to opt out.

If I got a pound every time someone went on about Boris Johnson’s damned “libertarian instincts”, I’d be a resident of Monaco by now. We left the EU to get out of a form of creeping statism, and we get this. At least, I suppose, we can eventually vote the current government, led by this albino circus act, out of office, but for things to improve, there has be a shift in the culture in the UK – and elsewhere – of what is acceptable and and about the importance of liberty and autonomy.