Monday, June 12, 2017

Making Google the Censor; New York Times, June 12, 2017

Daphne Keller, New York Times; Making Google the Censor

"Prime Minister Theresa May’s political fortunes may be waning in Britain, but her push to make internet companies police their users’ speech is alive and well. In the aftermath of the recent London attacks, Ms. May called platforms like Google and Facebook breeding grounds for terrorism. She has demanded that they build tools to identify and remove extremist content. Leaders of the Group of 7 countries recently suggested the same thing. Germany wants to fine platforms up to 50 million euros if they don’t quickly take down illegal content. And a European Union draft law would make YouTube and other video hosts responsible for ensuring that users never share violent speech.

The fears and frustrations behind these proposals are understandable. But making private companies curtail user expression in important public forums — which is what platforms like Twitter and Facebook have become — is dangerous. The proposed laws would harm free expression and information access for journalists, political dissidents and ordinary users. Policy makers should be candid about these consequences and not pretend that Silicon Valley has silver-bullet technology that can purge the internet of extremist content without taking down important legal speech with it."

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