Tuesday, May 13, 2014

No freedom of speech in the UK

What happens if you blog material critical of the racist UKIP party? They set the police on you:

Police have asked a blogger to remove tweets criticising Ukip policies after receiving a complaint from one of the party's councillors.

Michael Abberton disclosed on his blog that he was visited by two Cambridgeshire police officers on Saturday. He was told he had not committed any crimes, but was asked to delete some of his tweets, particularly a retweet of a faked poster giving 10 reasons to vote for Ukip, such as scrapping paid maternity leave and raising income tax for the poorest 88% of Britons.

Abberton, a Green party member who writes a blog on science and green politics, described the incident on his Axe of Reason blog."The police explained that I hadn't broken any law – there was no charge to answer and it really wasn't a police matter.

"They asked me to 'take it down' but I said I couldn't as it had already been retweeted and appropriated, copied, many times and I no longer had any control of it (I had to explain to one of the officers what Twitter was and how it worked). They said that they couldn't force me to take it down anyway."

From the actual post, the police officers clearly knew the complaint was a pile of arse, but were going through the motions. Which makes it look even worse. Meanwhile, their superiors are defending themselves by claiming they believe in free speech and that "We certainly don't go to people's houses and say: 'You can't tweet about this'. This is not 1930s Germany". Except that's exactly what they did. And its pretty obvious that they did it under political pressure. If they actually believed in free speech, they'd have said that to the complainant, not their victim.

As for the result, the Streisand Effect has kicked in, and the suppression attempt has caused far more attention than the original post. I wonder if UKIP will be complaining about that as well?