THE CREEPING STATE: Tory Plans To ‘Imprint’ Social Media
It is often the case that policies with a potentially high unpopularity score are snuck out through the backdoor into the regional press. This appears to be the case with this piece in the Birmingham Mail which details plans from the government to force all Twitter and Facebook users who ‘campaign’ anonymously using these platforms to publish their real name on their accounts.
This policy has potentially frightening implications. Let’s start with the definition of campaigning as laid down by the Electoral Commission, its rules on including a promoters ‘imprint’ which include name, address and contact details, define campaign literature as:
anything “that can reasonably be regarded as intended to influence voters to vote for or against a political party or a category of candidates”.
This is a UKIP-Supporting blog, so you could make a reasonable case that this blog falls into the category of campaigning material. Of course, this is my real name but I see no reasonable case for why I should publish on this blog my home address nor my telephone number and arguing that I should have to is a massive invasion of my privacy and arguably given the nature of my political alignment and the penchant for violence of the political left a risk to my security that the state, to gratify itself, is forcing me to take merely so I can exercise my right to free expression. Given that exceptionally broad definition, you could argue anyone merely expressing an opinion is ‘campaigning’ and therefore would be bound by these new rules.
Conservative Chairman Sir Patrick McLoughlin set out the plan in a submission on behalf of the Conservative Party to the Committee on Standards in Public Life, which is conducting an inquiry into intimidation of Parliamentary candidates. So, of course, we are given motherhood and apple pie about preventing ‘abuse’ but concretely these proposals could, in fact, lead to abuse. It is all a smoke and mirrors excuse to massively extend the power of the state over social media.
UKIP must be the at the cutting edge of resisting this attempt to control the internet for its own ends.