An investigative reporter is warning that lawmakers around the world are pursuing policy agendas that will result in totalitarianism — all in the name of stopping so-called “hate speech.”
In a May 3 post on Substack, Michael Shellenberger, who is one of the journalists who recently exposed how the U.S. government was leaning on social media companies to censor Americans, told readers that multiple countries are “establishing a vast and interlinked censorship apparatus” under the guise of preventing “harm” and hiding Big Tech companies accountable.
Shellenberger was joined by writer Alex Gutentag, as the pair caution that politicians working in concert with NGOs and the news media are leveraging legal loopholes and vague definitions to criminalize unfavorable speech.
“In Ireland, for example, the government may soon be able to imprison citizens simply for possessing material that officials decide is ‘hateful,’” they explain.
Ireland’s Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences) Bill 2022, which has just advanced after passing in the lower House of parliament with a 110-14 vote, would criminalize intentional or “reckless” speech that authorities say could potentially incite violence or hatred toward a person in a protected class.
Around the world, politicians have either just passed or are on the cusp of passing sweeping new laws, which would allow governments to censor ordinary citizens on social media and other Internet platforms.
— Michael Shellenberger (@shellenberger) May 3, 2023
Protected classes in the new legislation are race, color, nationality, religion, national or ethnic origin, descent, gender, sex characteristics, sexual orientation, and disability.
The penalty for violation of this law is up to five years in prison, according to a press release from Ireland’s Department of Justice.
U.S. officials are seeking to use the newly proposed RESTRICT Act to give the government the authority to monitor the internet activity of any American deemed a security risk, Shellenberger and Gutentag wrote.
The RESTRICT Act, sponsored by Virginia Democrat Mark Warner, would impose penalties of 20 years in prison or a $250,000 fine for using a virtual private network (VPN) to access websites blacklisted by government officials.
The pair also note similar restrictive bills being pushed throughout the European Union, Canada, New Zealand, and Brazil.
“There has been no moment similar to this one in the roughly 30 years of widespread public Internet usage in Western societies,” Shellenberger and Gutentag warn.
“Officials have introduced these policies mostly in the dead of night with little publicity or outcry. There has been a virtual blackout of what’s happening by mainstream news media corporations, with many appearing to support the new laws,” they wrote.
“We are thus witnessing the emergence of a governmental apparatus with the power to control the information environment in ways that determine what people believe to be true and what is false,” they added. “As such, it is no exaggeration to say that the West is on the cusp of a new and much more powerful form of totalitarianism than either Communism or Fascism, which were limited in their reach by geography.”