Disrupting Narratives for Social Change: Online Safety Bill Could Threaten the Right to Online Activism

There is nothing the elite hate more than having their narratives disrupted. Of course, in today's world getting your narrative even heard is challenging enough. The elite do have the benefit though of the media who will suck up every ounce of bait that those in the seats of power in government, big business, and especially big tech give them. Big tech of course also has a great stranglehold of all of the narratives of the world through the censorship, suppression, and removal of content that they do not approve of. Good or bad, whatever side you fall down on the freedom of speech online the fact that these tech titans can leverage this power not just over individuals but other companies, the media and the governments of the world should be concerning to us. But is there a solution to it?

Government, especially those in the west and specifically right now I am thinking of the British Government want to gain more control of the technology industries to put in so-called 'safe guards' to ensure they are acting on removing content they do not approve of, so that they have their content auto-approved and most worrying of all so that they, government agencies can keep 'an eye' on what the likes of you and I are doing. At the same time, they want to give up our rights of online privacy, data privacy, and so on to sell to the highest bidder in a desperate attempt for the UK not to fall off the world shelf post-Brexit. 

Whether you are a fan of online activism or not, or whether you think it is for the lazy people who don't want to go out and protest it can be a real source of social change, social action nd can cause action to be taken on the streets, in parliament and more. And this is one of the many reasons why this very form of activism is at threat. Truth be told Boris and his clowns would love to be able to stop any cause of activism that was not in their favour and they are trying at that. 

The Online Safety Bill has little to nothing to do with safety, with the restrictions on crowd gathering and rights of law enforcement brought about by the Coronavirus Act 2020 and Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 we are seeing the right to protest being eroded and with now talking about vaccine passports/ID cards we appear to be going towards a state where our freedoms of movement, right to protest and freedom's of speech is under attack. Now you may say 'yes but this is only temporary.' The thing is these things are very seldom temporary. If history tells us anything when governments get new powers, especially during times of crisis, they very rarely let those new powers go with ease. 

You may even bemoan the need to worry about this. You may say that protestors such as Extinction Rebellion, Black Lives Matter, etc cause havoc on the streets, prevent you from getting to work, and are a nuisance. You may say that social media needs more censorship because of all the hate, misinformation, and disinformation that has been spread in the last five or six years. But what about your rights? Your children's rights? The rights of vulnerable people? What about your right to privacy which is a basic human right? What about your right to hold politicians and government, big business, and big tech accountable for their actions? What about when your freedoms or rights are eroded for something you believe strongly in? What then? What will you do then when you cannot protest, comment online or get your message out about how you have been mistreated?

You may jump on the data rights and privacy rights bandwagon of 'I have nothing to hide.' I would ask, you have nothing to hide from who? Government? Okay but by the government having access to everything data point you access from the things you buy on your credit card to the searches you make on the internet late at night, to the friends you have, the things you have liked and disliked, everything you have shared and so forth they also have the ability to sell and share that data. Who with? Big business. Also by opening up these gateways to things like your private messages on Messenger, WhatsApp, and so forth they opening up the ability for people with nefarious ideals to hack those back doors into your private lives. This is only scratching the surface of these issues but they are areas of concern. 

In short, your right to privacy and your right to challenge narratives of government and big industry is part of you basic human rights. Giving these up is a slipery slope to dystopia, don't be railroaded into it. We all need to take a stand on for the rights of all in order to protect the rights of self. 



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Photo by Mikhail Nilov from Pexels

written by Sam

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