Mr R Dunsterwritten evidence (FEO0026)


House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee inquiry into Freedom of Expression Online


1.              Is freedom of expression under threat online? If so, how does this impact individuals differently, and why? Are there differences between exercising the freedom of expression online versus offline?


Yes, due to control of platforms by business, as opposed to control by democratically elected representatives. I see no difference between on- & off-line freedom of expression


2.              How should good digital citizenship be promoted? How can education help?


By ensuring absolute lack of political bias in education, teaching how, not what to think, and emphasising STEM where things are provable.


3.              Is online user-generated content covered adequately by existing law and, if so, is the law adequately enforced? Should ‘lawful but harmful’ online content also be regulated?


Yes, No.


4.              Should online platforms be under a legal duty to protect freedom of expression?




5.              What model of legal liability for content is most appropriate for online platforms?


Exactly as per other media


6.              To what extent should users be allowed anonymity online?


To the same level as applicable off-line.


7.              How can technology be used to help protect the freedom of expression?


By being content independent, within the law.


8.              How do the design and norms of platforms influence the freedom of expression? How can platforms create environments that reduce the propensity for online harms?


Use of selective algorithms to prioritise certain views to certain groups, under commercial sponsorship or for other reasons, (etc etc) diminishes FOE.


9.              How could the transparency of algorithms used to censor or promote content, and the training and accountability of their creators, be improved? Should regulators play a role?


I suspect it is impractical, or indeed impossible, to make algorithms transparent, to either the layman or specialist.


10.              How can content moderation systems be improved? Are users of online platforms sufficiently able to appeal moderation decisions with which they disagree? What role should regulators play?


By making them obey law & nothing else. (To all 3 questions)


11.              To what extent would strengthening competition regulation of dominant online platforms help to make them more responsive to their users’ views about content and its moderation?


A lot. Compare recent demise of Parler.


12.              Are there examples of successful public policy on freedom of expression online in other countries from which the UK could learn? What scope is there for further international collaboration?


Not sufficiently aware of other countries practice in detail to comment. International collaboration will, however, tend to diminish the application of local law, and thus reduce democratic control.



13 January 2021