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Social media apps displayed on a smartphone, March 1, 2018 (Press Association photo via AP Images).

With New Laws to Filter Online Content, Will the Internet Remain Free and Open?

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

On Monday, the European Union’s member states approved a package of controversial reforms to the bloc’s copyright laws, known as the Copyright Directive, that the European Parliament passed last month. It came just after Australia implemented a new law to police certain content on social media following the mass shooting at two mosques in New Zealand, which the attacker had livestreamed on Facebook. And last week, the United Kingdom entered the fray, releasing a widely anticipated white paper on “online harms” about keeping citizens safe online.

Together, all three developments represent ways that democratic governments are building out content-filtering regimes on the internet to confront the spread of hate speech, disinformation and other scourges online. But they also underscore a critical trend for internet freedoms, with major international implications: the importance of adequate checks and balances on these kinds of internet policies, in both what content these governments filter and how they do that filtering. ...

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