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PM warns of “chilling effect” of cancel culture

Freedom of Speech
8 May 2024

The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has warned of the “chilling effect” of “shutting down people’s views and making people fear speaking out”, and has spoken about the potential impact of Artificial Intelligence on the media industry.

Mr Sunak, addressing the Society of Editors Conference, said: “That’s not who we are. That’s not what this country stands for. Democracy depends on the ability to air our views, to challenge and interrogate people’s standpoints and to learn from different perspectives and experiences.

“And if we value a liberal, pluralistic society, we cannot allow one group of people to say their experiences are more important than others.”

He went on to describe countries like Russia, China and North Korea an “axis of authoritarian states…united by their shared antipathy to our values and to our freedoms, and are growing more assertive all the time”

“It just shows that our values, and the principles that this body was founded on, are more important than ever.”

Just last week, the UK government stopped the sale of The Telegraph to an Abu Dhabi-backed investment fund, due to fears about how it might impact journalistic freedom.

The Prime Minister also spoke about the impact of Artificial Intelligence in the media industry, which is already being used to proliferate fake news.

Mr Sunak said: “New technology is being used to peddle propaganda and false narratives, disinformation is fomenting division, undermining the truth and journalists themselves are even becoming the victim of deep fakes.”

“We are meeting this threat head-on, ensuring we do so in a way that doesn’t hamper freedom of expression but enhances it.”

The Government’s goal, Mr Sunak said, is to ensure that “the opportunities of technology are not exploited by the enemies of democracy.”

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