Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, gave the keynote speech at the annual South by Southwest festival in Texas this week, where he demanded that governments and tech companies join forces to prohibit so-called hate speech and disinformation. Telling conferees that the world is facing “historic change and uncertainty,” tech companies should help to curtail extremism while also fostering diversity. He also called on the tech sector to minimize the negative effects of its products on communities.
“No business or industry should ever consider itself above the local rules or laws set by democratic processes,” Khan said. Khan is of Pakistani ancestry is London’s first Muslim mayor and the most prominent Muslim politician in the United Kingdom.
Khan expressed admiration of a new law that came into effect in Germany. Coming into effect in January, the “NetzDG” law allows an unknown collection of government agencies in cooperation with tech companies to police the Internet and remove content deemed to be “hateful” or otherwise deemed as “hate speech.” In Germany “hate speech” may be words that are true, accurately critical, or descriptive of terrible current events, including the results of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s border policies that allowed over a million migrants to enter Germany since 2015. To bolster his demand for such public-private cooperation in controlling speech, Khan publicly read vile comments that he has received on social media.
Khan’s demands come after Twitter, Google, and YouTube have suspended or locked out a number of social media accounts for tweets the corporations deemed objectionable. In the United Kingdom, users can be locked out of social-media accounts for publishing facts about the ongoing revelations of child rape, prostitution, and murder at the hands of criminals that the British press called “Asians,” or in other words Muslims of Bangladeshi, Indian, or Pakistani origin.
In an interview with the Huffington Post, Khan said that he hopes Facebook, Google, Twitter, and others will cooperate with his scheme. “Unless they evolve and adapt and take steps, then don’t be surprised if governments go down the German route,” he added.