Home > Brexit, Brexit Manifesto, Business, Changing politics for the better, Communication, Ethics, Principles, Restoring Democracy > Changing Politics for the better Pt 6: Governing the Internet, Social Media and the online world

Changing Politics for the better Pt 6: Governing the Internet, Social Media and the online world

For many young people, access to the Internet, Smartphone technology and publishing every aspect of our lives online is already experienced as being the way that things have always been.

Yet for those who have lived through the arrival of analogue, then digital mobile phones; analogue internet with the dial-up tone, then broadband and streaming too, the whole process feels remarkably quick when looking back on 30 years doesn’t actually feel like its that long.
But a process that has been very short for what has been achieved in terms of technological development and access during that period of time, has been remarkably long for the large wheels of government, which have moved throughout this period at a rate that looks comparatively very slow indeed.
Like it or not, the way that we interact with each other and with anyone with whom we have contact has been affected by this extraordinary change.
Social skills that we learned through basic interaction and conditioning with other children, with adults and with the people we met as children has been replaced with a cultural restructuring.
Children are now handed ipads or tablets at a very early age and quickly learn to use the tools that they have been given. Yet in so doing, they surrender much of the understanding and trial and error learning processes that come via human and community interaction, and they do not develop a robust or rounded set of social skills as a result.
Likewise, the ease with which adults can order almost anything on the internet and the speed with which what were once long winded processes are now completed, for many is a new skill, outlook or understanding that simply cannot be unlearned.
Yet the changes that on the face of it appear to have significantly improved our lives have at the same time created a strange and unrealistic dichotomy, where ethics or the rules of interaction with others only seem to count in ‘real life’ when we find ourselves face to face with others, and even these now seem to be being eroded too.
A distance now exists between many people that was never there before. Not with the people we know and love. But the humanity is being lost from the way that we interact with each other in those situations beyond. And instead of the parallel universe that is the Internet catching up with the way that things have always been done in the real world outside, the dehumanisation of relationships that exists on the Internet is now finding its way slowly, but steadily into the way we behave with each other in the real waking world.
We only see the tip of this daily in the way that the removal of social barriers on the internet encourages people – who in real life would never dream of talking to other people face to face in the same way – to attack, criticise and yes, troll other people as if their action will never create any harm – simply because it has been done online.
Without government having already taken the steps to govern our use of the internet with a working, open, accessible but nonetheless safe framework for social interaction and conduct with business, people in the online world are simply going to continue cherry picking what they want to take away from the rules we are currently much better at accepting when we are in and focused on the world beyond.
The apparent ease with which internet giants can appear almost overnight doesn’t give them a free reign to ignore rules of an unwritten kind that have developed and governed the way that people behave over a very long time.
In fact, if anything, the whole thing needs to be turned on its head. We must learn to respect the Internet as another part of our already complex lives, and ensure that the rules are no different and that what we do online and especially in the case of interaction with people we never have or may never have cause to meet are simply the same as they would be if we were meeting with that person face to face, and government needs to do so before it is much too late.
Life is already becoming much too cheap as a result of a system which conditions us to believe that we can always quickly get our own way.
We must embrace the positive aspects of the internet and smart technology for the benefits that it ahs and will continue to deliver for us all. But at the same time, we must also recognise the very dangerous and destructive side to this two edged sword and ensure that legislation is created and then evolved to make sure that the Internet really is a tool that is there to benefit everyone and is not just there to be exploited at the expense of others by yet another ‘knowing’ few.
A good Government could begin by:
  • Removing the ability of all to be completely anonymous on Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, Blogger, Youtube or any other form of social media where commenting and the ability to openly attack anyone or anything is openly involved.
  • Ensuring that a system does exist where legitimate anonymity such as whistle blowing or helpful comment and dialogue from those with a genuine desire to help others whilst needing to protect themselves professionally can also exist.
  • Creating legislation to ensure that no decision that could affect the future and wellbeing of any individual in any way, such as credit checks & authorisation or CV matching can be fully automated or completed by algorithms alone without human interaction on the part of all parties involved of some kind.
  • Creating legislation to ensure that everyone is automatically ‘forgot’ after a period of three years, so that everyone has the ability to legitimately move on with their lives, and only appropriate authorities hold longer term records on any individual or business and hold the right in certain circumstances to disclose.
  • Legislating to ensure that any social media or publishing platform builds in detection software that will automatically trigger an on screen flag when formulations of words or topics that might be offensive to others might be involved.
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