Over at ConservativeHome, former Big Brother Watch Director Alex Deane has offered his observations on the recent debate on whether or not Twitter should be shut down during times of significant social unrest.
In particular, he has responded to the arguments of pro-shutdown Conservative MP Nadine Dorries and the civil liberties champion and leading economist Dr Andrew Lilico:
“It was interesting yesterday to listen to two old friends of mine arguing on the Today Programme. Andrew Lilico, who should be on the Monetary Policy Committee, and Nadine Dorries, who should be in a senior Government position, battled it out over recently mooted plans to shut down social media during civil unrest.
“Building on his earlier post on this site, Andrew pointed out that we had vehemently objected when this was done recently by Egypt. Nadine (who has since also posted here about the discussion) sought to distinguish our situation from that precedent, suggesting that it was acceptable for the British government to do it, because it would be for good reasons and by a good government, whilst it was unacceptable for the Egyptian government to do it, because it was for bad reasons, by a bad government.
“I think that the point about precedents is important, too. Once this crisis is thought suitable to silence free speech, for a little while, what about the nextone, for a little longer? And the one after that, for longer still? Nadine did not like the past, Egyptian precedent Andrew deployed (which I thought rather strong, given that we should practice what we preach, but hi ho): she might, then, reflect on the precedent that the current government might be setting for the powers used by future governments, which might not be so good as the one in which she serves.
“Nadine ends her Platform post with a plea to think of the children: she thinks that of course enlightened Government should have these powers, to stop bad people doing bad things in bad times. Necessity is the plea of, well, anyone who wants to wield more power – she should be careful about using such lazy logic, since its use by others has very unhappy ends. As I say, ultimately, it justifies anything, being done by anyone.”
You can view his extended post – which makes liberal reference to John Stuart Mill’s ‘On Liberty – by clicking here.