UK security minister proposes "Digital IDs" to enforce online civility

Ben Wallach is Theresa May's security minister; he has proposed that the UK follow China's example and require that any place providing internet access use bank-account verification to affirmatively identify all the people who use the internet so they can be punished for bullying.

The minister characterised this as a choice between "the wild west or a civilised society"; he claimed that forcing people to identify themselves before they speak would end "mob rule on the internet."

He said that social media companies should bear the cost of tracking the identities of all their users.

Real-name policies have proved to be a boon to authoritarian rulers; in Cambodia, dictator Hun Sen has embraced Facebook, creating a direct pipeline to Facebook's real-name compliance team that his government uses to force critics to reveal their real identities (exposing them to arrest and torture), or leave the platform.

In the UK — where libel laws favour the rich and powerful — the ability to speak anonymously has been key to uncovering the historic sex abuse scandal, in which the most powerful politicians and businessmen in Britain were revealed to be rapists who preyed on children, women and men with total impunity.

Britain's "great firewall" has been vastly expanded under Blair's Labour government, the Tory/Libdem coalition, and the current Tory government. Originally a secret blacklist of sites alleged to host images of the sexual abuse of children, the firewall is now a sprawling list of "extremist" sites, sites alleged to promote copyright infringement, markets alleged to sell counterfeit goods, etc. If an authoritarian British government wanted to ban online services that refused to participate in a real-names policy, it could use the "great firewall" to block noncomplying services.

Mr Wallace told The Times: "A lot of the bullying on social media and the grooming is because those people know you cannot identify them.

"It is mob rule on the internet. You shouldn't be able to hide behind anonymity."

Digital IDs needed to end 'mob rule' online, says security minister Ben Wallace [Lizzy Buchan/The Independent]

(via /.)