London, May 19 : After the passing of the Investigatory Powers Act in the House of Commons of the Westminster in November last year, PM Theresa May is now planning to introduce huge regulations on the way the internet works, allowing the government to decide what is said online.
Particular focus has been drawn to the end of the manifesto, which makes clear that the Tories want to introduce huge changes to the way the internet works. "Some people say that it is not for government to regulate when it comes to technology and the internet," it states. "We disagree."
“It is in the interests of stable markets that consumers are protected from abusive behaviour, that money is able to flow freely and securely, and that competition between businesses takes place on a level playing field,” the manifesto further states. “So, we will establish a regulatory framework in law to underpin our digital charter and to ensure that digital companies, social media platforms and content providers abide by these principles.”
Senior Tories confirmed to sources that the phrasing indicates that the government intends to introduce huge restrictions on what people can post, share and publish online. The plans will allow Britain to become "the global leader in the regulation of the use of personal data and the internet," the manifesto claims.
It comes soon after the Investigatory Powers Act came into law. That legislation allowed the government to force internet companies to keep records on their customers' browsing histories, as well as giving ministers the power to break apps like WhatsApp so that messages can be read.
The Conservative and Unionist Party Manifesto 2017, while endorsing their “Forward Together” tagline, also makes a reference to increased powers because of the new act, saying that the government will work even harder to ensure there is no "safe space for terrorists to be able to communicate online.” That is apparently a reference in part to its work to encourage technology companies to build backdoors into their encrypted messaging services – which gives the government the ability to read terrorists' messages, but also weakens the security of everyone else's messages, technology companies have warned.
The government now appears to be launching a similarly radical change in the way that social networks and internet companies work. While much of the internet is currently controlled by private businesses like Google and Facebook, Theresa May intends to allow government to decide what is and isn't published, the manifesto suggests.
The new rules would include laws that make it harder than ever to access pornographic and other websites. The government will be able to place restrictions on seeing adult content and any exceptions would have to be justified to ministers, the manifesto suggests.
The manifesto even suggests that the government might stop search engines like Google from directing people to pornographic websites. "We will put a responsibility on industry not to direct users – even unintentionally – to hate speech, pornography, or other sources of harm," the Conservatives write. The laws would also force technology companies to delete anything that a person posted when they were under 18. But perhaps most unusually they would be forced to help controversial government schemes like its Prevent strategy, by promoting counter-extremist narratives.
"In harnessing the digital revolution, we must take steps to protect the vulnerable and give people confidence to use the internet without fear of abuse, criminality or exposure to horrific content", the manifesto claims in a section called 'the safest place to be online'.