Sir David Davis comments on YouTube censoring vaccine passport speech


As published by The Daily Mail:

‘An outrageous attack on free speech’: Tory MP David Davis accuses YouTube of censoring him after video of his speech outlining vaccine passport concerns was removed.

Tory MP David Davis has accused YouTube of censoring him after a video of a speech outlining concerns over vaccine passports was taken down from the site.

The former Brexit Secretary spoke at the Conservative Party Conference last week about his view that Covid certificates were ‘illiberal’ in that they demanded ‘an ordinary British citizen produce our papers to do something which is normal in our daily lives.’

The 11-and-a-half-minute clip was initially uploaded by the campaign group Big Brother Watch, which had hosted the fringe event at which Mr Davis was speaking.

However, YouTube then removed footage of the speech, claiming it violated its policy on ‘medical misinformation’.

In a notification email to Big Brother Watch, the platform said: ‘YouTube doesn’t allow claims about COVID-19 vaccinations that contradict expert consensus from local health authorities or the World Health Organization (WHO).’

Mr Davis slammed YouTube’s claims regarding his speech as ‘potentially libellous’ and maintained that the speech was ‘wholly accurate’.

A spokeswoman for Google, which owns YouTube, told MailOnline that ‘sometimes we make the wrong call.’

Big Brother Watch said it had never received such enforcement from any social media platform before and said it would mount an appeal against the decision.

The video was then reinstated earlier this week.

Mr Davis, MP for Haltemprice and Howden said: ‘This is an outrageous attack on free speech.

‘Throughout the pandemic, we have seen blatant attempts by Big Tech to silence opposition voices challenging the conventional wisdom. This episode serves as a further example of the worrying trend of strangling free speech.

‘My speech at conference was carefully researched, wholly accurate and backed up with the latest scientific evidence.

‘This Government will shortly be bringing forward the Online Safety Bill. This harmful piece of legislation is nothing but a censor’s charter that only hands more power to these unaccountable Silicon Valley giants.

‘The unambiguous attempt by YouTube to censor my speech is a warning. If YouTube is happy to attempt to silence elected Members of Parliament, then they are also happy to censor anyone uploading content to their services.

‘The Government must stop the erosion of free speech online. That starts with looking again at the wholly inadequate proposals in the Online Safety Bill.’

Mark Johnson, Legal and Policy Officer at Big Brother Watch added: ‘The removal of David Davis’ brilliant speech at our civil liberties event is a serious act of censorship from a platform with a growing track record of clamping down on free speech.

‘YouTube has become increasingly intolerant of discussion around the pandemic.

‘If a Member of Parliament and a human rights group can be censored by YouTube, so can anyone.

‘The Government is doing nothing to tackle online censorship but stands to make the problem worse with broad rules clamping down on lawful speech in its new Online Safety Bill.

‘This ought to be a wake-up call to politicians that freedom of speech is under severe threat in the digital world.’

A spokeswoman for Google, which owns YouTube, said: ‘The flagged video was briefly suspended but upon review was immediately reinstated.

‘We quickly remove flagged content that violates our, including COVID-19 content that explicitly contradicts expert consensus from local health authorities or the World Health Organization.

‘With millions of hours of videos uploaded on our site each day, sometimes we make the wrong call.’