Harms in Public Spaces

The Brits are working out a new way to intervene in private lives and in private businesses, this time in an attempt to control “harms” done via (not by, mind you) “online platforms”—social media.

Under the [British] government’s proposal, a new regulator would have the power to require companies to protect users from a number of identified online harms—such as pornography, extremist content, and cyber bullying.


[T]he pair talked through the different terms that had been used to describe social media in a legal context, looking for the right analogy. They tried “platform,” “pipe” and “intermediary.” Nothing seemed to fit. Then “we thought of a ‘public space,'” says Ms Woods. “People do different things online. It was just like ‘how do we regulate spaces?'”

“Identified” online harms? We can’t even define the harms—such as pornography, extremist content, and cyber bullying.  Even Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart ultimately walked back his foolish I know it when I see it nonsense, recognizing that such a nebulous “definition” had no place in law.

We have not—we cannot—define any of these harms, much less what constitutes a “public space;” there is no basis for Government regulating these things.

Nor have we succeeded in recognizing who actually is responsible for these harms, whether public or private.  See the disconnect, at a high level, between the Left’s Big Government is responsible on the one hand and the Right’s focus on individual responsibility on the other.

The British government may want to create a whole new, intrusive bureaucratic agency for controlling one more aspect of British citizens’ lives. When we wrote our Constitution and ratified it those two and a quarter centuries ago, we explicitly walked away from the British system of governance for a number of reasons; central among them being the illegitimacy of Government intrusions into private lives.

This is one more example.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *