‘Free Speech Champions’ Blast Weaponized Global Censorship in ‘Westminster Declaration’

October 19th, 2023 5:14 PM

A group of free speech advocates are taking a stand against global censorship with a new declaration.

The Westminster Declaration has amassed 136 signatories from around the world. “In the course of human history, attacks on free speech have always been a precursor to attacks on all other liberties, and regimes that seek to destroy free speech have always also sought to destroy democracy,” the group explained. “What has changed, though, is the broad scale and technological tools through which censorship can be enacted,” they added. The declaration and those who signed it are urging governments and tech companies not to crush free speech.

Signatories include Twitter Files journalists Michael Shellenberger and Matt Taibbi, Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson, Harvard medical professor Martin Kulldorff, British comedian John Cleese, UK biologist Richard Dawkins, Stanford professor Jay Bhattacharya, actor Tim Robbins and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. 

The group includes individuals from across the political spectrum. “Coming from the left, right, and centre, we are united by our commitment to universal human rights and freedom of speech,” the declaration explained. It called for action from governments, tech companies and all citizens to protect free speech.

Between the European Union and the U.S. government, free speech advocates are alarmed for the future of free and open discourse. “Open discourse is the central pillar of a free society, and is essential for holding governments accountable, empowering vulnerable groups, and reducing the risk of tyranny,” the declaration read. “We do not want our children to grow up in a world where they live in fear of speaking their minds.” It specifically cited the U.S. First Amendment as a model.

The group of intellectuals and media figures went on to express deep concern “about attempts to weaponize the words ‘misinformation,’ ‘disinformation,’ and other ill-defined terms.” The group continued, “This weaponization has resulted in the censorship of ordinary people, journalists, and dissidents in countries all over the world.”

Unfortunately, the problem is getting worse, according to the Westminster Declaration. “Across the globe, government actors, social media companies, universities, and NGOs are increasingly working to monitor citizens and rob them of their voices.” The group included examples from Turkey, Brazil, India, the UK and Germany. The Declaration warned of risky actions such as deplatforming and breaking end-to-end encryption.

New York Post columnist Miranda Devine noted that the declaration comes as E.U. politicians tighten the censorship screws with the anti-free speech Digital Services Act. The declaration concluded, “This declaration was the result of an initial meeting of free speech champions from around the world who met in Westminster, London, at the end of June 2023…it is only by coming together that we will defeat the encroaching forces of censorship.” 

Conservatives are under attack. Contact your representatives and demand government agencies and Big Tech be held to account to mirror the First Amendment while providing transparency, clarity on so-called hate speech and equal footing for conservatives. If you have been censored, contact us at the Media Research Center contact form, and help us hold Big Tech accountable.