Wednesday, 29 August 2018

The "Otherness" of Public Services

Is it just me, or does anyone else sense the fact that people in public office have careers that seem to be protected and apart from reality.... essentially untouchable?

We have a Police force that is generally protected (unless they are at the bottom of the pile) and no matter what, seem to be immune from prosecution. For instance being given the option to "retire" instead of heading to court like anyone else.

Doctors seem to be able to get away with virtually everything, even killing patients but don't get struck off. At the very least they should be stripped of their rank and forced to retrain. But of course they get protected and it's very difficult to get a doctor struck off.

Council workers are the same: managers can make untold mistakes and they get re-assigned, moved sideways or promoted out of the way.

MPs facing investigation get unending investigations that never come to a conclusion and are allowed to carry on as normal while the investigation is being conducted.

Don't get me started on the idiocy of Speaker Bercow being the one to investigate complaints about himself.

Labour MPs are not removed from the Party for anti-Semitic comments, neither are local councillors.

Paedophile Priests, Teachers cruel Care Home managers football coaches and many other professions close ranks and protect the guilty. It's virtually impossible to get a conviction, much less getting them banned from the profession.

It stinks. We the public seem to be more vulnerable to the wrath of the Police and investigations in general. If we fiddled our expenses like MPs, we would at the very least be out of a job and most likely be facing prosecution.

But these protected species tend to close ranks and block attempts to prosecute.

It has to stop. Negligence and other issues in the NHs are crippling the service. MPs should be accounteble and held to a high standard. Police and Council workers are our servants, not our masters.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

The Good but Authoritarian Intentions of Platform Providers

There's a great amount of debate at the moment about the banning of Alex Jones from virtually every form of online media. Now personally I think he's very clever and has tapped into into a rich mine of conspiracists, right wingers, and the like who see evil everywhere, but he's not to my taste. But I wouldn't ban him.

Taking a neutral standpoint, if it looks like censorship, smells like censorship and quacks like a duck, then it's censorship. Which is where these "platform providers" stray over a red line.

Previously they have insiststed they cannot censor output because of free speech, they only provide the platform, as a way of dodging laws relating to publishers, for instance libel.

So now if they are editing or censoring  content by banning people they don't like, then "platform providers" move to the status of "publisher" and liable under every law that a publisher is liable.

You can't be both at the same time.

In parallel with this argument is the debate about who is doing the banning, who is being banned and why they are being banned.

First let's look at why people are being banned.

I can see a good argument for platform providers banning proscribed organisations; terrorist groups and those outlawed by government. Or when output is illegal or publicises illegal acts then that is quite legitimate. The platform providers have no choice in the matter and they can rightfully argue that they are platform providers and are only following government restrictions, i.e. they are not publishers.

However, when it comes to banning people because the platform providers don't like their output, when it comes to a matter of taste and not legality, then they move over the red line from platform provider to publisher. They are not proscribing output for legal reasons, they are proscribing output based on taste or political ideology.

Under those circumstances they open up themselves to legal challenges from individuals who have been libelled on their platform, just like a publisher would be.

They also open themselves up for challenges under free speech legislation. There is no good reason why the accounts have been disabled/removed  or output prevented. Other than the owner of the platform disagrees with their output.

As for who is doing the banning, it's very interesting that all of the companies or "platform providers" are located very close together in California. It's a cartel of companies that lean to the left of politics. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, even LinkedIn have banned Alex Jones and are all in a relatively small area on a global scale.

As for what is being banned, well it seems what the left deem right wing output gets chopped over and above anything elase. Many so-called right wing bloggers have had their accounts banned or shadow-banned (had their account output disabled or unavailable to view).

It's a new McCarthyism, the left banning output they disagree with. Considering the left in America went through exactly the same in the 50's, it's highly hypocritical of them to now do exactly the same to the Right.

But hey, that's what authoritarians (for example Communists) do isn't it? Hang on a minute, the result of the McCarthy witchhunts deemed those in the media and entertainment on the left weren't Communists after all.... or was the McCarthy commission wrong?

Maybe McCarthy was right after all?

Just sayin'

Finally I'd love for someone with the money that was libelled on one of the platforms and also banned to sue the "platform providers". Because the providers can't argue successfully in both cases. They are either platform provider and allow free speech for everyone as long as the output isn't banned by government or illegal, or they edit accounts and therefore platform content and are publishers.