Calling it a necessary tool in the war against child abuse, the European Union (EU) plans to expand its war on free speech by forcing Big Tech companies to scan “select” private messages of users of their platforms for unacceptable content.
In reality, the EU is leveraging serious issues like child abuse and sex trafficking to launch a government surveillance plan the likes of which have never been attempted before (via The Verge):
The European Commission has proposed controversial new regulation that would require chat apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger to selectively scan users’ private messages for child sexual abuse material (CSAM) and “grooming” behavior. The proposal is similar to plans mooted by Apple last year but, say critics, much more invasive.
After a draft of the regulation leaked earlier this week, privacy experts condemned it in the strongest terms.
This document is the most terrifying thing I’ve ever seen. It is proposing a new mass surveillance system that will read private text messages, not to detect CSAM, but to detect “grooming”. Read for yourself. pic.twitter.com/iYkRccq9ZP
— Matthew Green (@matthew_d_green) May 10, 2022
“Detection orders” would be issued by individual EU nations, and the Commission claims these would be “targeted and specified” to reduce privacy infringements. However, the regulation is not clear about how these orders would be targeted — whether they would be limited to individuals and groups, for example, or applied to much broader categories.
Critics of the regulation say such detection orders could be used in a broad and invasive fashion to target large swaths of users. “The proposal creates the possibility for [the orders] to be targeted but doesn’t require it,” Ella Jakubowska, a policy advisor at EDRi, told The Verge. “It completely leaves the door open for much more generalized surveillance.” (Emphasis mine)
Might the European Union’s attack on free speech be heading to America’s shores? Actually, with help from Republicans, it’s already here in the form of Joe Biden’s war on Big Tech “misinformation.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in July 2021 that the White House was working with Facebook to not only flag so-called disinformation/misinformation on COVID vaccines, but to also have Facebook share data on the reach and engagement of posts deemed disinformation with the government.
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) July 15, 2021
Earlier this year, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy took it a step further when he demanded that Big Tech companies surrender user data to the federal government regarding so-called COVID misinformation; including the demographics affected by misinformation, the sources of misinformation, and exactly how many users saw or may have been exposed to the misinformation — data that can only be obtained by scanning private messages.
The pièce de résistance occurred last month when Joe Biden took a page out of George Orwell’s 1984 to create a de facto Ministry of Truth when his Department of Homeland Security set up the Misinformation and Disinformation Governance Board. Nina Jankowicz, a Russian disinformation expert easily influenced by partisan ideology when determining the difference between fact and disinformation, was appointed to lead the new department.
In a June 2020 op-ed, Jankowicz wrote for Wired.com that Facebook groups were destroying America because they are built for privacy. And in a recent interview with NPR, she said this Elan Musk’s buyout of Twitter:
“I shudder to think about if free speech absolutists were taking over more platforms, what that would look like for the marginalized communities all around the world, which are already shouldering so much of this abuse, disproportionate amounts of this abuse, and retraumatizing themselves as they try to protect themselves from it, you know, reporting, blocking, et cetera. We need the platforms to do more, and we frankly need law enforcement and our legislatures to do more as well.” (Emphasis mine)
Recently, Biden put the Ministry of Truth on “pause” — which is most likely Washington doublespeak for “we’ll pretend to kill it now in order to bring it back as something else later” — but his war on free speech and Big Tech marches on thanks to Republicans and Democrats at both the national and state level.
For example, Republicans like Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri have made the war on social media and free speech, along with a healthy dose of Trumpism and nationalism, key to their presidential aspirations in 2024.
In the name of taking down Big Tech, Republicans have made protecting our God-given, constitutionally protected rights secondary to protecting politicians and their selfish ambitions. Josh Hawley has been a loyal soldier in this regard, first serving under the orders of Donald “Fake News” Trump.
When Trump issued an executive order to “reform” Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act — an order where the only free speech was government-approved speech — he included suggestions on how government could control internet content and spy on internet users.
Following Trump’s executive order, Josh Hawley and a group of Trumpists in the Senate introduced the Limiting Section 230 Immunity to Good Samaritans Act, a bill that limited Section 230 immunity for social media platforms. The measure was co-sponsored by fellow soldiers in Trump’s war against Big Tech and free speech: Sens. Marco Rubio, Mike Braun, and Tom Cotton.
In one of their first orders of business following the 2020 election, Democrats took up Trump’s “Fake News” war against free speech and a free press when they sent letters to the presidents of Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, Cox, Dish, and other cable and satellite companies suggesting that they stop carrying Fox News, One America News Network, and Newsmax.
According to these Democrat lawmakers, the list of “conservative” channels had become promotors of misinformation and political violence. (Emphasis mine)
The motivation behind the global war on social media and free speech has nothing to do with protecting children, nor is it about truth or protecting people from so-called disinformation/misinformation. The goal is simply to silence the voices of people saying things government doesn’t approve of in order to protect political parties and the interests of the state.
To reach that goal, governments in the European Union are preparing to force Big Tech to scan the private messages of users of their platform in order to weed out unacceptable content and silence free speech — a practice well underway in the U.S.
David Leach is the owner of the Strident Conservative. He holds people of every political stripe accountable for their failure to uphold conservative values, and he promotes those values instead of political parties.