New online anonymity rules will create two-tier internet, warns IEA expert

Commenting on the government’s plans to protect people from anonymous trolls online, Matthew Lesh, Head of Public Policy at free market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs, said:

“The Online Safety Bill is turning from maddening to farcical. Almost every week we are being drip fed another unworkable announcement.

“The new anonymity rules will mean creating two versions of social media. One version for the privileged few, and another for everyone else who has legitimate reason to want to stay anonymous, including victims of domestic abuse, whistleblowers and those in hiding from a totalitarian regime. Others will simply not wish to join a new digital identification scheme.

“The reformulated ‘legal but harmful’ duty represents magical thinking – it is simply not possible to create an entirely sanitised version of the internet for some users. There remains a serious risk that platforms will be more censorious overall in order to avoid creating two versions of their product.

“The government is doing everything they can to impose extraordinarily high regulatory burdens at immense costs to enterprises, that will inevitably scare away investment and tech jobs. Every silly idea that pops into the head of a government minister should not be written into the law.”


Notes to editors

Contact: Emily Carver, Head of Media, 07715 942 731, [email protected]

IEA spokespeople are available for interview and further comment.

Further IEA reading:

In harm’s way: Why online safety regulation needs an Independent Reviewer, by Matthew Lesh and Mikołaj Barczentewicz.

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