Internet Freedom could encompass an enormous number of different areas. Three of them being social media law, online censorship and the development of a digital bill of rights.
Reports, Research and Briefings
Social media Law
Legislation must be drafted which reflects the changes that have taken place in the communications landscape
The laws as they stand are out of date and the current guidelines on social media prosecutions, although better than nothing, do not resolve the issue. As a first step Section 127 of the Communications Act should be abolished. The Act itself was first drafted to deal with abuse towards telephone operators and through successive amendments was extended to regulate the one-to-many communications that exist on the internet.
After this section of the Act has been abolished, new legislation applicable to internet communications should be drafted, addressing the specific challenges.
Remove the term ‘grossly offensive’ from the Malicious Communications Act 19
Using the term “grossly offensive” is subjective and has resulted in unnecessary and wasteful cases being brought to trial. Loose wording of this kind can have serious implications, there should be real consideration given to the necessity of the phrase.
A clear approach to filtering arrangements
In the past there has been some confusion over what type of filtering will be utilised in the Government’s strategy. In “Tackling extremism in the UK” the Prime Minister’s Task Force on Tackling Radicalisation and Extremism pledged to “work with internet companies to restrict access to terrorist material online”.1 However the Home Secretary’s written ministerial statement which accompanied the document made reference to “identifying extremist content to include in family friendly filters”.2 Amending family filters voluntarily is acceptable and understandable. Blocking content to all customers however would require careful consideration and a clear decision making process.
The implementation of a legally sound blocking process
Big Brother Watch advocates a system that replicates Section 97A of the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988, which requires a High Court injunction to be served on ISPs. A system such as this would be able to fully consider the issues of both criminality and the public interest to freedom of speech.
Digital Bill of Rights
The introduction of a Digital Bill of Rights
With June 2015 marking the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, it is time that a similar charter existed to protect our online rights. The document should introduce common standards to safeguard the free and open nature of the internet. This is a concept that has been called for by a variety of figures such as Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Al Gore, Lord Foulkes of Cumnock, Martin Amis and Gillian Slovo. 3 4 5 6