Warning new law will make this the last Christmas of religious freedom

Stephen Fry discusses free speech

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The UK’s Online Safety Bill threatens to curtail free speech all around the world and hand power to “woke nerds” who will define what is safe or unsafe, a social media boss has warned. Speaking to Express.co.uk, Jason Miller said he believes religious freedom will be the top target of people who want to ban legal forms of speech online.

Mr Miller is a close ally of Donald Trump, who has only just been reinstated to Twitter by Elon Musk since he bought the social media platform.

The former President was banned by Twitter and Facebook following his supporters storming Congress on January 6 2021 in protest over what they claimed had been a cheated Presidential election in favour of Joe Biden.

Mr Miller set up his GETTR platform in the wake of censorship by what were seen as left-leaning social media companies to act as “a true free speech platform”.

But free speech activists and social media bosses have been looking closely at legislation currently going through the UK Parliament which aims to set parameters to police the internet.

An attempt to include a “legal, but harmful” clause was particularly alarming because it meant that which would be allowed in normal life would be banned on the internet.

However, thanks to a campaign by the journalist Toby Young and his Free Speech Union (FSU), ministers have backed down over the clause.

Nevertheless, Mr Miller said that the compromise has not gone far enough.

He said: “This is the misnamed Online Safety Bill because having ‘safety’ in the title means there’s going to be some serious strings attached.”

The entrpreneur admitted he had been concerned by “unelected, unaccountable woke officials” at Ofcom deciding what is safe or unsafe.

But he added: “We are out of the woods and an equally dangerous Pandora’s box can be opened with regard to the bill and the free speech implications not just in the UK but reverberating around the world.

“What I mean by that is it appears the government still on intent on infringing on free speech rights but rather than kicking the policing and accountability to Ofcom they are kicking it to silicon valley moderation centres which I envision as nerds and hoodies sitting thousands of miles away.

“I am firm belief that you have legal speech or illegal speech but when you have a middle ground you are attempting to censor then that is always going to be subject to political discrimination.”

The bill considers issues like preventing suicide encouragement or online harassment, but Mr Miller points out many of the issues are already illegal.

He was more concerned about plans for social media companies to have a safe or unsafe mode – which he believes will be used as a means to attack religious freedoms.

“The danger of that is that there will be unintended consequences.

“I still maintain that religion itself will be in the cross hairs of the bill. People are forced to pick or the platforms pick for them if their content is safe or unsafe.

“Again, we are talking about legal speech. What will happen if you have a priest, pastor or rabbi who wants to deliver a sermon or spiritual teaching that happens to say there are only two genders?

“Does that automatically mean their religious teachings from the Bible, the Torah, the Quran are going to be defined as unsafe?

“What the bill is really going to do is put control on legal speech which governments officials don’t want to see.”

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However, Mr Miller warned while the measures could simply see social media companies boycott the UK, it was more likely to have a wider impact in the world including the US.

He said: “What the bill is really going to do is put control on legal speech which governments officials don’t want to see.

“People who dare to question authority on lockdowns, people who question authority on climate change, people who might raise issues with the BBC’s definition that there are 148 genders. This is madness.

“What it is going to do, a lot of people don’t realise, is what happens in the UK will reverberate around the world and there is a very good chance it will be implemented in other countries.”

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