From its invention in 1989 until 2016, the internet was, by and large, a wild west of information. It hosted the good, the bad and the ugly; and there was a kind of unofficial understanding between politicians and the public that it should remain that way. But then the Brexit Referendum occurred and Donald Trump was elected, and since then things have gone downhill fast. The European political class, realizing this wild west and the information it contained could swing elections against their interests, started to react.
Governments, most notably Angela Merkel’s in Germany, began close cooperation with social media sites such as Facebook to censor comments and pictures posted by the dissident right. The full force of the law is biased against right-wingers, with literally hundreds of people across Europe either being fined or imprisoned for online posts. There is simply no right to free speech in Europe, an American 1st Amendment-type law is simply a pipe dream. It is also becoming increasingly common for businesses to go through years of a job applicant’s social media history, in order to check for any politically incorrect activity.
The clampdown on the freedom of the internet was clearly illustrated recently in the European Parliament, where MEPs voted on and passed the controversial Article 13 legislation. Article 13 is directive legislation, which means that it compels all member states of the EU to enact their own copy of this legislation in their respective parliaments. Article 13 is essentially a strengthening of copyright law, which could have large ramifications for Youtubers and social media users, depending on how it is interpreted. And this is really the main issue – if copyrighted content cannot be used in a ‘fair use’ context – how exactly can the internet possibly survive? Imagine using a photo of a Star Wars character for a meme on Twitter, and then being sued for using the image by Disney. That’s technically a possibility now that Article 13 has passed. At the very least, social media companies will be forced to take down memes that feature images from anything subject to copyright, which would include movies, television shows and photos of celebrities.
In Austria though, even more worrying plans are afoot. The government is on the verge of introducing legislation to parliament that would force social media companies to verify every single account user. This would mean that every single Austrian who uses Twitter, Facebook or Gab would have to link their real name, address, passport or driving license to their account. The Government thinks such measures will stop ‘hate speech’, or at least make it easier to prosecute those who commit ‘hate speech’. This legislation will apply to all social media companies with more than 100,000 users – so basically any website worth using.
Meanwhile, in Britain, the Government’s ‘Online Harms’ plan has been released, which spells out the country’s move towards more hardline internet censorship. In the future, there could be an internet regulator which would be able to enforce its own rules, which would include the power to prosecute social media companies and websites. Most worrying of all though, the regulator will have the power to order ISPs (internet service providers) to block websites it deems unacceptable. This could see the entire dissident right corner of the internet blocked in Britain. The Government openly admits that the reason for the ‘Online Harms’ plan is to combat fake news and trolling, which is newspeak for anything remotely right wing.
The much more heavy-handed internet censorship in Europe is fuelled by our enemy’s strategy. The left-wing ruling class know that they cannot win the debate openly - their mainstream media platforms are consistently losing market share and viewers to alternative media. So as a response they are doing everything they can to strangle our ability to project our message, even if that means significantly curbing peoples’ freedom of expression. Not that they have ever cared for freedom that much, it is simply a platitude that they occasionally spout to appear reasonable.