FREE SPEECH ALERT
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced on New Year’s Eve that the “Archewell Foundation” – their new joint venture – will partner with a hard left political lobby group that is trying to censor the Internet.
The couple said early last year that instead of being required to participate in “day-to-day duties”, they want “a progressive new role” that will let them focus on eliminating “online bullying [and] hate speech”.
Last year, Harry and Megan began “privately advocating” for the #stophateforprofit social media boycott campaign aimed at censoring Facebook. The campaign demands that the social media platform:
- Fight “misinformation” by getting rid of the political exemption whereby Facebook does not fact-check statements by politicians. The removal of this exemption would mean all politicians’ statements would face the threat of censorship;
- Establish a “permanent civil rights infrastructure including C-suite level executives with civil rights expertise to evaluate products and policies for discrimination, bias, and hate”, including those that have “the potential” for hate;
- Remove groups featuring “Islamophobia”; and
- Accept “regular, third party, independent audits of identity-based hate”.
Critical Internet Inquiry
The Archewell Foundation says that it is establishing a specific “Archewell Foundation Fund for the UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry, under the shared leadership of acclaimed researchers, professors, and authors Dr. Safiya Noble and Dr. Sarah T. Roberts”. It will support the stated goals of the Center (C2i2).
Algorithms of Oppression
Algorithms of Oppression is a controversial book by C2i2 founder Dr Safiya Noble, which C2i2 promotes and which appears to inform much of its work. It alleges that “search engines, specifically Google, perpetuate discrimination and racism”.
Harry and Megan state: “From the moment we started reading Algorithms of Oppression, we had a deep appreciation and respect for Dr. Safiya Noble and her critical work.”
Noble has alleged, for example, that Google’s apparently high rating of “criminal past” in searches for George Floyd constitutes “criminalising George Floyd” (he did, as a matter of fact, have a criminal record). On defunding the police, Dr Noble has said: “[A]t the moment #BlackLivesMatter is calling for the ‘defunding’ of police. People are turning to the Internet to figure out what that idea means. Google is going to be very important in making visible reliable information about this call, or in subverting those calls with information that subverts the message, particularly as people turn up to vote on ideas that may range from funding greater social services to establishing non-violent community policing initiatives to abolition of the militarized police state.” She claims that the Library of Congress encourages “patriarchy and racism”.
Noble wants the US government to “regulate decency” to stop search engines “imposing cultural values on a group”, but the racist attitudes she describes include the idea that you should judge people by the content of their character rather than the colour of their skin, which is dismissed as “colorblind” racism.
Noble’s fans subjected one academic who criticised her book to a twitter-mobbing. He retracted his criticism, saying: “Please forgive me. I will learn from this experience.”
More recently, Noble has been an enthusiastic supporter of Twitter’s Trump ban, condemning those who use “free speech” as “a shield for racism and harm”.
The United Nations
Last year, Noble and Roberts joined Tendayi Achiume , the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, to publish a special C2i2 paper for the UN Human Rights Council.
It called on the UN to spearhead an international effort to remove “harmful content” from the Internet: “The questions of the responsibility for tech company practices and where due diligence should lie are questions legislative bodies are asking of large internet media companies and should be supported and even coordinated through the United Nations… Imperative questions must be asked, such as: Should we trust tech companies to police themselves or should there be external monitoring bodies? What could external monitoring bodies look like, and who would take part?”
Some of C2i2’s researchers also work for the Oxford Internet Institute (OII), which the FSU has covered before. OII research has made spurious claims about the use of “computational propaganda” by western political parties (which turned out to mean simply political advertising and other essential facets of democracy) and suggested that North Korea had a safer internet than South Korea (this research was removed after the FSU reported on it).
Archewell-C2i2 partnership and Vanessa Wrenn Rhinesmith
The Archewell-C2i2 partnership will be run by Vanessa Wrenn Rhinesmith, whose profile reads: “Vanessa Wrenn Rhinesmith (she/her/hers) [also] oversees the Minderoo Initiative on Technology and Power [involved in ‘Building the new counter-culture’].”
Wrenn Rhinesmith’s work focuses on “intersectional feminism” and “harm reduction”. Her article ‘An intersectional feminist approach to state cyber/security and surveillance’ says “the traditional approach to international relations [is] often fraught with aggression (war), masculine tendencies & patriarchy, and heteronormativity (binary)… the binary infringes on (& asserts power over the) rights of women and folx [sic] who exist outside of the defined binary of the state”.
Why doesn’t Prince Harry support free speech?
Toby Young, the General Secretary of the Free Speech Union, said: “The people the Duke and Duchess of Suffolk are funding are hard left political activists who want to censor anyone who challenges their woke agenda. Under the guise of protecting people from ‘hate speech’, they want to cleanse the internet of people they disagree with. Does Prince Harry know who he’s gone into business with? If Dr Safiya Noblebelieves America is a ‘militarized police state’, I wonder how she feels about the Prince’s continuing involved in armed forces charities? As a member of the Royal Family, Harry should be standing up for fundamental British values, such as the right to free speech, not aligning himself with people who want to take that right away from people they disagree with.”