If you’re tired of censorship and dystopian threats against civil liberties, subscribe to Reclaim The Net.
Media outlets and architects of the UK’s censorship law, the Online Safety Bill, are increasing the pressure on neutral video sharing platform Rumble after it refused to bow down to the UK Parliament’s pressure to demonetize comedian Russell Brand.
The pressure to demonetize Brand came after anonymous sexual assault allegations were made against him. Brand has denied the allegations and has not been arrested, charged, or convicted of any of the allegations made against him.
Several companies, including YouTube, took action against Brand after the allegations surfaced, despite Brand having no content violations on YouTube. But Rumble stood up to the pressure and rejected the UK Parliament’s request to cut off Brand’s monetization, with CEO Chris Pavlovski noting that the allegations against Brand have “nothing to do with content on Rumble’s platform.”
Now, several media outlets and people who helped craft the UK’s online censorship law, the upcoming Online Safety Bill, are targeting Rumble’s stance.
Lord Allan of Hallam, a former Facebook executive who advised on the Online Safety Bill, branded Rumble a “crazy American platform” and expressed disdain at Rumble’s philosophy of allowing free expression.
He and internet law expert Professor Lorna Woods, an architect of the Online Safety Bill, also complained about Rumble’s refusal to bow down to pressure from UK officials and framed it as “grandstand[ing] before the press.”
The Times also took aim at Rumble by noting that under the Online Safety Bill, Rumble will have to “prevent children from seeing pornography…material that promotes self-harm, suicide or eating disorders…violent content…material harmful to health, such as vaccine misinformation” and “take down material that is illegal, such as videos that incite violence or race hate.”
However, Bryn Harris, the Chief Legal Council for The Free Speech Union, pointed out that The Times’ article doesn’t actually provide examples of any of the alleged illegal or harmful to kids content on Rumble.
Additionally, the Associated Press piled in on Rumble after it stood up to the demands of UK officials by claiming that Rumble is a “haven for disinformation and extremism.”
This mounting pressure comes days after the UK passed the Online Safety Bill — one of the most sweeping censorship laws to ever be introduced in the UK. The controversial censorship and surveillance bill is set to come into law next month.
The censorship provisions in the Online Safety Bill can be aimed at both citizens who post speech that’s deemed to cause “harm” and companies that fail to censor this so-called harmful content. The harms in the bill extend beyond physical or direct harm and into the realms of “psychological” harm and “potential” harm. Certain types of “false” communications are also prohibited under the bill.
As UK officials heap pressure on Rumble, reports have revealed that several UK politicians have ties to the pro-censorship Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) and the UK politician that pressured Rumble to demonetize Brand received a donation in kind from Google.