The journalist Michael Schellenberger recently discovered that there is a formal government censorship network called the “Global Online Safety Regulators Network” (GORSN).  Australia’s top Internet censor, Julie Inman Grant, an American, described it at the World Economic Forum. The group includes censors from Australia, France, Ireland, South Africa, Korea, the UK, and Fiji. 

This is a concerning development for anyone who values freedom of speech and privacy. The initiative aims to create a global coalition of regulators to combat harmful online content. However, in reality it is a veiled attempt at global censorship of the internet, aimed at circumventing the protections provided by Virtual Private Networks (VPNs).

At its core, GORSN seeks to coordinate censorship efforts across international borders. Libertarians and advocates of free expression have long warned against concentrated government control, arguing that it almost inevitably leads to abuse and suppression of dissenting voices.

The network’s capacity to enforce censorship and surveillance across borders is a direct threat to individual freedoms and the right to privacy.

Grant outlined the significant powers that regulators within the GORSN have at their disposal. She said that GORSN members can block internet service providers (ISPs), compel content takedowns, fine individuals or platforms that host offensive content, and impose other punitive measures as deterrents. Additionally, Grant discussed a new legislative framework that allows regulators to enforce basic online safety expectations. This framework’s scope suggests that GORSN aims to exercise substantial control over the internet, raising concerns about censorship, regulatory overreach, and the broader impact on freedom of expression and privacy.

Another alarming aspect of GORSN is its potential to invade privacy on a global scale. Grant’s remark that the network had the power to compel “basic device information and account information” are a stark warning that the network could enable mass surveillance. For libertarians, privacy is a very high priority and the notion that regulators could gather personal data without appropriate oversight is a worrying development. Broad powers to compel information from tech platforms suggests that GORSN could become a mechanism for government surveillance on an international level.

Grant’s mention of social media companies increasingly collecting phone numbers and email addresses raises the spectre of a surveillance state, where governments can easily track individuals and monitor their online activities. This level of intrusion into personal privacy should be of concern to anyone who believes in the right to remain anonymous and free from unwarranted government scrutiny.

GORSN’s push for global identity requirements and restrictions on VPNs is a direct assault on digital autonomy. VPNs are essential tools for maintaining privacy and accessing information freely, especially in countries with oppressive internet regulations. Any move to limit their use would further erode individual freedoms and strengthen authoritarian regimes.

The centralised control proposed by GORSN threatens to undermine the fundamental principle of a decentralised internet where individuals can maintain their anonymity and exercise their rights without fear of government intrusion, leading to an internet that is more tightly monitored and regulated by governments with varying degrees of respect for freedom and democracy.

GORSN seeks to coordinate censorship efforts across international borders

The sheer scope of GORSN’s power, including the ability to fine content hosts, compel takedowns, and block ISPs, is a classic case of regulatory overreach. When governments are given this level of authority, the risk of abuse is high. Such power can be used to suppress dissent, stifle criticism, and enforce a particular worldview, all under the guise of “online safety.”

From a libertarian perspective, the existence of GORSN is a troubling development that undermines the ideals of a decentralised internet. The network’s capacity to enforce censorship and surveillance across borders is a direct threat to individual freedoms and the right to privacy. Instead of a collaborative effort to address harmful content, GORSN represents a centralised approach that risks creating a global surveillance state.

The Global Online Safety Regulators Network is a danger to internet freedom. Its focus on centralised control, coupled with its broad powers, sets a dangerous precedent for governments seeking to extend their reach into the digital world. As the network gains momentum, it is crucial that libertarians and other advocates of free speech push back against this overreach and defend the principles of a decentralised internet.

Platforms like X and Rumble have taken public stances opposing intrusive government requests for content takedowns and data collection. Chris Pavlovski, the founder of Rumble, highlighted this issue in a recent post on X, stating, “Rumble has received censorship demands from Australia, New Zealand, and other countries that infringe on everyone’s human rights. We are noticing a dramatic increase in global censorship unlike we’ve ever seen before.” Elon Musk, the owner of X, endorsed this sentiment, indicating a shared concern among tech leaders.

But it takes more than a couple of tech leaders to fight censorship. To push back against government intrusion and censorship there are several measures that individuals can undertake. Support platforms that actively resist censorship and champion free speech, use VPNs to preserve online privacy and bypass censorship. Importantly, connect through servers in countries that are not part of the GORSN. This can help avoid unwanted surveillance and ensure a greater degree of anonymity while online.

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  1. This is disgusting as it is terrifying. Mass censorship, mass surveillance, blocking bank accounts, actively policing thought crimes (“hate speech”) while ignoring violent crime, lawfare, lockdowns, forced medication, hot wars everywhere, unbridled money printing, and an endless avalanche of media lies about all of it. What is it going to take for the masses of the public to realise the evil and corruption of western governments and unelected global institutions are driving the world into a hellish abyss?


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