Administration Should Not Embrace Censorship Nor Hamstring Efforts To Fight Online Extremism, Says CCIA

BY Heather Greenfield
August 9, 2019

Washington, DC —  Following recent tragedies in Texas and Ohio, the White House has publicized a meeting with technology companies to discuss responses to violent online extremism.  At the same time, press reports indicate that White House officials are contemplating an executive order prohibiting viewpoint bias by these same companies, sometimes referred to as the ‘Fairness Doctrine.’  

The order would follow a ‘social media summit’ last month, widely described in media reports as a ‘circus,’ where unsubstantiated complaints about anti-conservative bias were aired.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association has concerns about both the spirit and precedent of this type of government control whether here or in China. The following can be attributed to CCIA President & CEO, Ed Black: 

“We agree the Internet sector has a critical role to play in stemming online extremism. That role is made possible by Section 230’s ‘Good Samaritan’ protections, which empower online services to take down hateful and extremist content without legal liability.

“As the need to continue the fight against hateful ideologies online remains painfully apparent, the White House should not hamstring those efforts with politically motivated and likely unconstitutional executive orders about viewpoint neutrality. The Administration should be reinforcing online services’ capacity to combat hate and extremism, rather than undermining it.

“The title of this order, ‘Protecting Americans from Online Censorship’ is an example of 1984-type doublespeak.  It is in reality a step toward imposing censorship by proxy on the American people. Such disrespect for the core values of our Constitution’s First Amendment is dangerous to our freedom and democracy and unworthy of those who have undertaken an oath to defend the Constitution.

“It is imperative that sweeping online, or offline, content decisions not be made by political bureaucrats. While I hope and expect private company decisions will generally provide an open platform that takes account of societal needs, the marketplace of ideas needs to remain free of government dictates.

“We expect companies will continue being responsible players as the public expects, and that any corporate political priorities will be expressed not via their platforms, but the traditional political processes available to all citizens, including organizing, fundraising, and contributions.”

For media inquiries please contact Heather Greenfield hgreenfield@ccianet.org

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