People “left, right and centre” have signed a new declaration designed to launch a global free speech movement.The newly-released Westminster Declaration was the result of a meeting of free speech champions from around the world who met in Westminster, London, in June. The signatories are a politically and ideologically diverse group that includes journalists Matt Taibbi, Andrew Lowenthal and Glenn Greenwald; academics Richard Dawkins and Jeffrey Sachs; whistleblowers Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, actors and filmmakers such as Tim Robbins, John Cleese and Oliver Stone; doctors and scientists such as Sunetra Gupta, Martin Kulldorf, Jay Bhattacharya, Aaron Kheriaty; musicians such as Winston Marshall, and many more.In the declaration, the authors say they are “Coming from the left, right, and centre” to “warn of increasing international censorship that threatens to erode centuries-old democratic norms.”They add they are “all deeply concerned about attempts to label protected speech as ‘misinformation,’ ‘disinformation,’ and other ill-defined terms” that have “resulted in the censorship of ordinary people, journalists, and dissidents in countries all over the world” and “valid discussion about matters of urgent public interest” which “undermines the foundational principles of representative democracy.”The declaration noted direct censorship efforts in India, Turkey, Germany, Brazil, Ireland, the UK and Australia “threaten to severely restrict expression and create a chilling effect.” The authors were even more about coordinated efforts by the “Censorship-Industrial Complex” of government actors, social media companies, universities and NGOs.“These include visibility filtering, labelling and manipulation of search engine results. Through de-platforming and flagging, social media censors have already silenced lawful opinions on topics of national and geopolitical importance. They have done so with the full support of ‘disinformation experts’ and ‘fact-checkers’ in the mainstream media, who have abandoned the journalistic values of debate and intellectual inquiry,” the authors wrote.“As the Twitter Files revealed, tech companies often perform censorial ‘content moderation’ in coordination with government agencies and civil society. Soon, the European Union’s Digital Services Act will formalize this relationship by giving platform data to ‘vetted researchers’ from NGOs and academia, relegating our speech rights to the discretion of these unelected and unaccountable entities.”The declaration warned “some politicians and NGOs” wanted to target encrypted messages on WhatsApp, Signal, and Telegram, leaving “no remaining avenues for authentic private conversations in the digital sphere.”The authors alleged efforts to fight disinformation between states, such as the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency in the US, “are increasingly being turned inward against the public. Under the guise of preventing harm and protecting truth, speech is being treated as a permitted activity rather than an inalienable right.”The authors say “hurt feelings and discomfort” are “no grounds for censorship. 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.”“[W]e must strenuously protect speech for the views that we most strongly oppose. Only in the public square can these views be heard and properly challenged."“What's more, time and time again, unpopular opinions and ideas have eventually become conventional wisdom. By labelling certain political or scientific positions as 'misinformation' or 'malinformation,' our societies risk getting stuck in false paradigms. Free speech is our best defence against disinformation.”The authors said recent attacks on free speech were “a crisis of humanity itself” and history shows “social progress has depended on freedom of expression.”“We do not want our children to grow up in a world where they live in fear of speaking their minds. We want them to grow up in a world where their ideas can be expressed, explored and debated openly."“It is only through free speech that we can denounce violations of our rights and fight for new freedoms.”The authors cited Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), drafted in 1948: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.'”The authors added, “the corollary of the right to free speech is the right to information. In a democracy, no one has a monopoly over what is considered to be true. Rather, truth must be discovered through dialogue and debate and we cannot discover truth without allowing for the possibility of error." “Censorship in the name of 'preserving democracy' inverts what should be a bottom-up system of representation into a top-down system of ideological control [that] sows mistrust, encourages radicalization and de-legitimizes the democratic process.”The authors warned that “attacks on free speech have been a precursor to attacks on all other liberties” but recent ones have been set apart by “the broad scale and technological tools through which censorship can be enacted.”The authors said “state abuses of power have historically posed a far greater threat than the words of lone individuals or even organized groups” and gave three calls to action. They also called on “governments and international organizations…to uphold Article 19 of the UDHR” and for tech corporations to “protect the digital public square” in the same spirit and “refrain from politically motivated censorship, the censorship of dissenting voices, and censorship of political opinion."“And finally, we call on the general public to join us in the fight to preserve the people's democratic rights. Legislative changes are not enough. We must also build an atmosphere of free speech from the ground up by rejecting the climate of intolerance that encourages self-censorship and that creates unnecessary personal strife for many. Instead of fear and dogmatism, we must embrace inquiry and debate."Canadian signatories included authors Jordan B. Peterson and Stephen Moore; journalists Mia Ashton and Jan Jekielek and professors Eric Kaufmann and Gad Saad.