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The UK thinks all social media accounts should be verified – that’s not a good thing

The UK is once again trying to make the internet unsafe under the guise of security.

uk online safety bill graphic
Image: GOV.UK

The UK government is trying to make it so that you won’t be able to use social media without verifying your identity, under the guise of improving internet safety. The new bill also puts increasing pressure on platforms to moderate the content that is posted.

On the face of it, this seems like a perfectly sane option to limit the torrents of anonymous trolls on any social media platform. The UK government’s proposal has two main points.

One makes it so popular social platforms have to provide a way for every user to verify their account. The platform would also have to add more ways to block content from unverified users.

The second part would force platforms to create tools to block “legal but harmful content.” That could be vaccine misinformation, racist abuse, or other hateful but not technically illegal things.

Tech firms have a responsibility to stop anonymous trolls polluting their platforms,” says UK digital Minister Nadine Dorries

The thing is, this proposal as it stands would create more issues than it fixes. Verification is not a fix for online hate. Look at Facebook, and all of the hateful content posted by people using their real names.

Internet safety for me, but not for thee

The ability to block non-verified accounts from interacting with verified ones also creates a two-tier internet. Maybe even a three-tier internet, considering this would only compel tech companies to verify UK users.

While it does limit anonymous trolls, it also limits anyone who has to use an unverified account for their own safety.

That includes victims of domestic violence, LGBTQ+, and activists in countries with authoritarian governments. Oh, so anyone in the UK if this bill is to pass.

This isn’t the only piece of legislation the UK is trying to ram through to limit the internet. It’s also trying to make porn sites verify users through a credit card, cellular provider, or passport data.

This type of verification just doesn’t work. It’s moralistic handwringing for the digital age and creates more issues than it solves.

It seems like every other week that we see news stories about another major data breach. The number of serious data breaches is only going to increase if these bills pass, or the overarching Online Safety Bill that the UK government wants to implement.

It’s not internet safety that the UK is trying to promote here, instead, it’s a stranglehold on the open internet.

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