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Censorship Industrial Complex

Scotland’s crazy anti-hate law may be sign of things to come here

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From the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

By Brian Giesbrecht

Scotland had 8,000 complaints in the first week. Is it likely that a similar avalanche of claims will result in Canada if C-63 becomes law?

Actually, there will probably be a lot more here.

For one thing, our population is many times the size of Scotland’s.

Some argue that Scotland’s new hate speech law is more draconian than Canada’s yet-to-be-enacted equivalent, Bill C-63. Others say this is not so — that portions of ’63’ are even greater threats to free speech than Scotland’s extreme new law.

Regardless of who wins in this radical experiment in mass censorship, one thing we can predict with certainty: Both laws will be a goldmine for the legal profession and a nightmare for anyone who has ever dared to write, say or broadcast anything controversial.

How? Well, in the first week that Scotland’s new hate legislation has been in force there has been an avalanche of new claims launched — 8,000, and counting. Every one of those claims will have to be defended by a person who believed that they were exercising their right of free speech.

Now, 8,000 of those people will be caught up in expensive, time consuming, and emotionally draining litigation. Their cases will mostly be heard by officials and judges who were appointed specifically because they shared the same views as the government that appointed them — the same government that felt the need to prosecute these 8,000 people.

That 8,000 surpassed the total number of hate crime allegations in Scotland for all of 2023. A projection is that there will be an estimated 416,000 cases for 2024 if this rate keeps up. The complaints have completely overwhelmed Scotland’s police.

The Scottish Police Federation’s David Threadgold said this about how the new law was being used by angry citizens with an axe to grind: “…the law was being “weaponised” by the public in order to settle personal grudges against fellow citizens or to wage political feuds, while suggesting that the government encouraging the public to report instances of ‘hate’ has clearly blown up in their face.”

We have already seen this Scottish law in action when J.K. Rowling, who is famous not only for her wonderful Harry Potter books, but more recently for stating what we knew as fact for the first few hundred thousand years or so of human history — namely that men are men, and women are women — famously reposted that claim and dared the Scottish police to charge her.

The police announced that she wouldn’t be charged — at least that particular police officer wouldn’t charge her at this particular time.

The other person who has been the subject of many of those 8,000 complaints is First Minister Humza Yousaf — the very man responsible for this monstrosity of a law. Yousaf is himself quite famous for complaining that Scotland has too many white people. Who knew?

That odd observation resulted in a world famous spat with none other than Elon Musk. The online slugfest basically took the form of each man accusing the other of being a racist. At times it looked more like a schoolyard fight.

That a national leader seriously feels that the sledgehammer of the criminal law must be used to sort out such cat fights between citizens is rather alarming.

But, in this regard, Yousaf and Trudeau are birds of a feather. Both are convinced that only “acceptable views” — namely the views they agree with — will be allowed, while “unacceptable views,” namely, those they don’t like, must be disappeared by the machinery of the state.

It should be explained at this point that Scotland’s new law, unlike our C-63, requires police to determine whether or not the person under complaint has “stirred up hatred.”

Bill C-63 has those “hate” complaints heard by the Human Rights Tribunal.

In both cases however, one person’s opinion will judge another person’s opinion. However, one person will be paid to perform this function, while the other person might become a criminal if their opinion fails a completely subjective test.

Scotland had 8,000 complaints in the first week. Is it likely that a similar avalanche of claims will result in Canada if C-63 becomes law?

Actually, there will probably be a lot more here.

For one thing, our population is many times the size of Scotland’s.

For another, C-63 allows people to make complaints anonymously if the tribunal says so. It also promises up to $50,000 per complaint. That’s a powerful motivator. That $50,000 doesn’t come from some magic bank, by the way. If you are the person complained about, it comes from you. And you might be required to fork over an additional $20,000 to the tribunal for their troubles.

I’m not sure if they will expect a tip.. 

Much has been written about C-63. Many knowledgeable Canadians have discussed in detail the hundreds of objections they can see with this Bill. Senior Canadian voices, such former Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, and world famous author Margaret Atwood, have warned Canadians about this seriously flawed legislation.

But what no one has done — except for Trudeau apparatchiks — is to give any good reasons why Canada needs this legislation.

If Scotland’s projected number of complaints for 2024 is 416,000 and they have a population of less than six million, the projection for Canada would be into the millions of complaints. Even setting aside the obvious impossibility of paying for thousands of new tribunal adjudicators, staff, and the thousands of new lawyers required to help the million-plus people who are thrust into this hate complaint boondoggle, why would any serious government even wish such a thing on their citizens?

Do we not have a rather large bag of serious problems we must contend with?

We have a generation of young people, for example, who might never in their lives be able to afford a home of their own. How do we expect these young people to raise a future generation of Canadians without a home in which to raise them? Isn’t that a bigger problem than someone’s hurt feelings?

Another example… Trudeau has just noticed that we don’t seem to have an army anymore. Isn’t that a bigger problem than whether or not someone feels that they have been misgendered, or called nasty names?

There is a list, as long as the longest arm, of very real problems that need urgent attention. Why are we wasting time and money on the brainchild (yes, I use that term loosely) of a desperate prime minister and his few remaining fellow ideologues?

This legislation is totally unnecessary, and an appallingly disrespectful way to treat Canadians. We already have hate laws. We already have laws to protect children. C-63 is as useless as the tired apparatchiks pushing it.

We should definitely pay attention to what is happening in Scotland. It will be our fate if this perfectly awful Bill C-63 is not defeated.

Brian Giesbrecht, retired judge, is a Senior Fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

Censorship Industrial Complex

Australia passes digital ID bill, raising fears of government surveillance without accountability

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From LifeSiteNews

By David James

Critics argue the legislation, enacted under the guise of increased security, ramps up government surveillance and control, with no accountability mechanisms for public sector misuse.

The Australian Parliament has passed the Digital ID Bill 2024 and Digital ID (Transitional and Consequential Provisions) Bill 2024 which, it claims, will provide “certainty” for the expansion of the existing Australian government digital ID system.

The move is being presented as a way to improve “privacy and security” for people when interacting online by “verifying” users’ identities. The government claims that the legislation will reduce fraud and other malpractice by private actors, but the bill says nothing about the public actors, the government. The implication is that that the public sector will never do anything wrong with its increased powers, raising the suspicion that it is yet another move by state and federal governments to increase surveillance and control over the lives of citizens.

Australia is a paternalistic society and there is no mechanism to hold the executive branch of government accountable – indeed the possibility is rarely raised. There is thus nothing to stop more intrusions into people’s privacy by the government.

Commenting on the passing of the bill, Queensland Senator Malcolm Roberts from the One Nation Party said that, while the voluntary system has been presented as a measure for security and convenience it could lead to significant privacy breaches, cyber-attacks, and government overreach. He described it as a potential attack on Australians’ “freedom, privacy, and way of life,” especially if it eventually becomes mandatory.

Roberts pointed to the Digital ID bill, the Online Safety Act, the Identity Services Verification Act, and the Misinformation and Disinformation Bill as elements of what looks like a coordinated plan by the federal government “to identify, punish and imprison anyone who resists this slide back into serfdom.” In the initial inquiry into the Digital ID bill, he said, the Human Rights Commission “drew attention to the lack of protection of privacy and human rights in the bill,” but it was ignored. Roberts added that the bill is very similar to legislation being implemented in other Western nations.

A significant proportion of the Australian population has concluded that politicians and the public sector cannot be trusted and that they fail to scrutinize their own actions. As if to underline this unaccountability, the Digital ID bill was passed using “tricks used to stifle debate and public discussion,” according to former federal senator Craig Kelly. He said on X (formerly Twitter) that the way the bill was passed was “contrary to precedent, the spirit of the Constitution and [the] Westminster tradition.”

“Labor introduced the Digital ID in the Senate (the House of review) instead of the House of Representatives,” Kelly wrote. “Then they guillotined debate in the Senate. And in House of Representatives, Labor shifted debate to the Federation Chamber where the Liberals put up token resistance with only one Liberal MP and two National MP’s bothering to speak on the Bill – and they didn’t even try any amendments to protect privacy or to try and safeguard against it being made compulsory.”

The government mendacity continues – at a time when federal laws against “disinformation and misinformation” are being debated. There is constant propaganda in government-funded media outlets about what an effective job was done against the “pandemic” by pursuing lockdowns and mass vaccination. It is false; there was no pandemic. The Australian Bureau of Statistics found that 2020 and 2021 had the lowest number of deaths from respiratory diseases since records have been kept.

The federal government, in a statement, is giving the impression that the move is merely a way to protect vulnerable Australians, to give certainty for providers and services, and to provide transparency in order “to build public trust.” But what is not said is more important than what is said. There is no mechanism for Australians to redress wrongs committed by the government.

What should happen is something that has never existed in Australia: the establishment of a way for Australians to hold the public sector accountable and stop their governments becoming a menace, as occurred during the “pandemic.” Unless public servants are at risk of being penalized, or at least of having their actions constrained, there is a strong likelihood that fears about the Digital ID Bill will ultimately be realized.

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Censorship Industrial Complex

Jim Jordan Exposes Biden’s Censorship-Industrial Complex

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From the Daily Caller News Foundation

By TOM HEBERT

 

“Internal talking points prepared by Amazon,” says the report, “included the question: ‘Is the [Biden] Admin asking us to remove books, or are they more concerned about search results/order (or both).’”

High-ranking Biden White House operatives coerced Big Tech companies into censoring posts critical of the Biden administration or those that spread so-called “misinformation” about COVID-19. A blockbuster new report from the House Judiciary Committee, which is chaired by Rep. Jim Jordan, exposes how the Biden administration weaponized Big Tech against conservatives.

“The report,” the committee said when it released it, “details the months-long campaign by the Biden White House to coerce large companies, namely Facebook, Google, and Amazon, to censor books, videos, posts, and other content online. By the end of 2021, Facebook, YouTube, and Amazon changed their content moderation policies in ways that were directly responsive to criticism from the Biden Administration.”

This report is the result of a multi-year investigation by the Judiciary Committee’s Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government. The evidence, including tens of thousands of emails and other non-public documents, shows a disturbing pattern of Biden officials pressuring Big Tech companies into censoring Americans online.

Shortly after Biden’s inauguration in 2021, then-White House Digital Director Rob Flaherty began haranguing top Facebook officials for more detail on their policies for taking down COVID-19 related posts. “In February 2021,” says the report, “Facebook increased its censorship of anti-vaccine content as well as the lab leak theory of the origin of the virus because of ‘tense conversations with the new [Biden] Administration’ and as part of an effort to be responsive to the Biden White House’s exhortations to ‘do more’ to combat alleged misinformation.”

As 2021 progressed, the White House demanded to know what Facebook was doing to censor “borderline content,” posts that did not violate Facebook’s content moderation policies but were nevertheless objectionable to Biden officials. “Facebook would meet again with the Biden White House on March 12, 2021, to discuss how it was approaching ‘borderline content,’ that is, content that did not violate its policies,” says the report.

“Facebook walked through its policies and enforcement practices for violative and borderline content,” it says. “But call notes reveal that throughout the meeting, Flaherty continued to ask about the removal and reduction of content above all else.”

Unsatisfied with Facebook’s unwillingness to “play ball,” Flaherty and the White House played hard ball. On July 16, 2021, a reporter asked Biden: “On Covid misinformation, what’s your message to platforms like Facebook?” Biden responded: “They’re killing people.”

In response to the intense pressure from the White House, Facebook went on to change their content moderation policies and censored posts about vaccine hesitancy and the lab-leak theory.

Facebook was not the only social media platform that Biden officials pressured. In April 2021, Flaherty reached out to YouTube with a litany of questions about YouTube’s efforts to censor borderline content. “Flaherty’s email was particularly focused on how YouTube handled non-violative ‘borderline’ content,” says the report. “These requests were prefaced by stating the Biden White House wanted ‘to be sure that you have a handle on vaccine hesitancy generally and are working toward making the problem better’ and that this ‘is a concern that is shared at the highest (and I mean highest) level of the [White House].’”

After Flaherty succeeded in making YouTube change its content moderation policies “to remove content that questioned the safety or efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines,” other Biden bureaucrats started to pester YouTube employees to clamp down on other content. In March 2022, according to the committee report, former Biden advisor Tim Wu asked for a meeting with Google employees to discuss “Russian misinformation/disinformation” and “airline competition.”

Another staffer communicated with YouTube about abortion-related content. “On July 14, 2022, YouTube Government Affairs staff contacted White House personnel to brief them on ‘updates related to addressing reproductive health misinformation on YouTube,’ to which White House staff responded, saying that they were ‘specifically interested in abortion,’” said the report.

Biden officials clearly sought to censor content they perceived as politically damaging to Biden.

The report also shows the White House’s obsession suppressing books that they disagreed with. In March 2021, the Biden White House emailed an Amazon executive “asking to have a discussion regarding the ‘high levels of propaganda and misinformation and disinformation at Amazon.’”

“Internal talking points prepared by Amazon,” says the report, “included the question: ‘Is the [Biden] Admin asking us to remove books, or are they more concerned about search results/order (or both).’”

There are two important takeaways from this report.

One, the Biden administration sought to impose a censorship regime through Big Tech to benefit the president politically.

Two, Congress should act to prevent future government-directed censorship of American speech. There are numerous bills that would address this problem. The House passed the “Protecting Speech from Government Interference Act” last year, legislation that would ban bureaucrats from advocating for censorship of viewpoints. The “Free Speech Protection Act” imposes penalties on bureaucrats who censor speech, and the “Censorship Accountability Act” would allow  Americans to sue bureaucrats who violate their First Amendment rights.

The Biden administration has displayed an appalling amount of contempt for American free speech. Exposing Biden’s censorship-industrial complex is an important first step toward ensuring that unelected bureaucrats do not have a veto over what we say online.

Tom Hebert is Director of Competition and Regulatory Policy at Americans for Tax Reform and executive director of the Open Competition Center.

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