But there is something else deeply suspicious about all this. Which is the way in which “getting tough” or “cracking down” on tech companies has become one of the new ways to divert ourselves from addressing real-world issues.
After the London Bridge attack last summer (the third such attack in a row) the U.K. prime minister, Theresa May, announced that tech companies must do more to tackle “radicalization.” In fact there was no evidence that the culprits had ever been radicalized online. They all knew equally bad people, and at least two of them should never have been in the country in the first place. One had even appeared on a TV documentary on Channel 4 called ”The Jihadi Next Door.” So if the security services, tech companies, or politicians had wanted to discover that one of the soon-to-be terrorists was a bad egg they didn’t need any new Internet laws. They only had to turn on the television. The fact that people who can’t do that now want to police the web is a matter for anyone to marvel at.
But of course it is so much more restful to ask someone else to address a near-impossible goal than it is to conquer a possible one yourself.