The UK Government’s plan to amend the Online Safety Bill is a truly Orwellian move.
Yesterday Reuters reported Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan wants to amend the Online Safety Bill so they can force platforms “to remove videos that show “in a positive light” migrants arriving in Britain illegally using small boats”.
First, people arriving in boats are refugees not migrants. As the UNHCR 1951 Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees states, a refugee is anyone with “a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion” who finds themselves “outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country”. Until the facts of each case can be investigated, those arriving in boats are refugees. The alternative, where this government is
headed, makes us barbaric.
The other thing to understand, despite what the vested interests, who benefit from this distraction, want you to believe, arriving in the UK “illegally” does not stop anyone from claiming asylum. Again read the 1951 Convention for yourself and you’ll see.
What this government are trying to do is to remove video evidence of refugees fleeing for their lives, arriving on UK shores in appalling conditions, and in desperate need.
That way they can frame these arrivals as a threat.
I’d argue, even those propagandist videos, the kind posted by the deeply unpleasant Nigel Farage, would be taken down. If you turn down the sound, remove his stammering thoughtless monologues, you have footage of desperate people risking their lives, crossing open water, in a raft.
This government’s desire to blind people to the truth, hide the evidence, coupled with their ability to silence protest with the recently enacted Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022, means we’re headed towards, if not already in, the kind of authoritarian society we condemn elsewhere in the world.