Jack Goldsmith, a ‘conservative’ Harvard law professor, wrote the following piece for The Atlantic where he argues that in the wake of the recent “pandemic” not only do we need more censorship on the internet, but that further restrictions on our freedoms are actually good for us:
COVID-19 has emboldened American tech platforms to emerge from their defensive crouch. Before the pandemic, they were targets of public outrage over life under their dominion. Today, the platforms are proudly collaborating with one another, and following government guidance, to censor harmful information related to the coronavirus. And they are using their prodigious data-collection capacities, in coordination with federal and state governments, to improve contact tracing, quarantine enforcement, and other health measures.
As Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg recently boasted, “The world has faced pandemics before, but this time we have a new superpower: the ability to gather and share data for good.”
Civil-rights groups are tolerating these measures—emergency times call for emergency measures—but are also urging a swift return to normal when the virus ebbs. We need “to make sure that, when we’ve made it past this crisis, our country isn’t transformed into a place we don’t want to live,” warns the American Civil Liberties Union’s Jay Stanley. “Any extraordinary measures used to manage a specific crisis must not become permanent fixtures in the landscape of government intrusions into daily life,” declares the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital-rights group. These are real worries, since, as the foundation notes, “life-saving programs such as these, and their intrusions on digital liberties, [tend] to outlive their urgency.”
But the “extraordinary” measures we are seeing are not all that extraordinary. Powerful forces were pushing toward greater censorship and surveillance of digital networks long before the coronavirus jumped out of the wet markets in Wuhan, China, and they will continue to do so once the crisis passes. The practices that American tech platforms have undertaken during the pandemic represent not a break from prior developments, but an acceleration of them.
As surprising as it may sound, digital surveillance and speech control in the United States already show many similarities to what one finds in authoritarian states such as China. Constitutional and cultural differences mean that the private sector, rather than the federal and state governments, currently takes the lead in these practices, which further values and address threats different from those in China. But the trend toward greater surveillance and speech control here, and toward the growing involvement of government, is undeniable and likely inexorable.
In the great debate of the past two decades about freedom versus control of the network, China was largely right and the United States was largely wrong. Significant monitoring and speech control are inevitable components of a mature and flourishing internet, and governments must play a large role in these practices to ensure that the internet is compatible with a society’s norms and values.
…What is different about speech regulation related to COVID-19 is the context: The problem is huge and the stakes are very high. But when the crisis is gone, there is no unregulated “normal” to return to. We live—and for several years, we have been living—in a world of serious and growing harms resulting from digital speech. Governments will not stop worrying about these harms. And private platforms will continue to expand their definition of offensive content, and will use algorithms to regulate it ever more closely. The general trend toward more speech control will not abate.
Communist China is being held us as a model society toward which we should be moving, according to this “conservative”.
But then again, we were told long ago that our oligarchs planned to ideologically merge America with the Soviet Union to create a New World Order, the “free market” totalitarian mass surveillance society, so let’s not be surprised when it arrives.
And now that the “pandemic” is ending, we will gladly give up more of our rights so that we don’t have to live under house arrest like that again.
Privacy? I have nothing to hide anyway.
And yes, “digital speech” is far more “harmful” than regular speech, as “digital speech”, or so we are told, uniquely can “incite violence” — and therefore, it must be censored to make it “compatible” with society’s “new norms”.
Somewhere on the internet the truth is offending someone, hurting someone’s feelings, and making someone feel “unsafe”.
Even if it’s true, we certainly can’t have that.