Britain is writing the playbook for dictators
There is a rush to “do something”. But “something” too often involves magical thinking and specious “solutions”. Frequently, technology is painted as both cause and solution. Problems are presented as existing “online” and thus their solution is framed as technological. This almost always involves some combination of expanding surveillance and curbing the fundamental human right to privacy and free expression. The Online Safety Bill is a perfect example. Under the pretext of protecting children, its provisions could lead to the implementation of government-mandated mass surveillance applications on every UK smartphone. These would scan every message you send. The opaque databases and error-prone AI technology that would power this surveillance regime could lead to the mass deplatforming of millions of people based on unreliable algorithmic systems. Such a system would also introduce vulnerabilities and flaws that would inevitably be exploited by hostile states and hackers. While politicians have denied for months that the Bill will break encryption, the Home Office has been quite clear that it believes end-to-end encryption is enabling child abuse on the internet.