Washington – As state legislatures return next year, more than two centuries of First Amendment precedent is expected to be under attack as politicians introduce legislation to further regulate how digital platforms host online content. The Computer & Communications Industry Association has advocated for First Amendment rights online for more than 25 years and today released its summary of the State Content Moderation Landscape highlighting trends and the nuances of such legislative measures from the 2022 session.
During the past two years state legislatures have introduced more than 250 bills to regulate online content. Some politicians are frustrated that social media companies are doing too much to remove dangerous content online and others argue they are not doing enough.
Two states, Florida and Texas, passed bills that would require private companies to publish material. Both are on hold while they make their way through the court system, with multiple federal judges indicating the bills are likely unconstitutional. The First Amendment protects the right to speak without government interference and the right not to speak for citizens and private businesses.
The following can be attributed to CCIA State Policy Director Khara Boender:
“As states convene legislative sessions in 2023, they’ll be doing so in a unique environment. As a result of the midterm elections, a larger number of states will have one party controlling both chambers of the legislature in addition to the governor’s seat. This, coupled with an increased interest in content moderation issues – on both sides of the aisle – leads us to believe this will be an increasingly hot topic.”
“The main problem with these state content moderation laws is that politicians are too willing to throw democracy under the bus in a misguided attempt to amplify the views of their side online. The First Amendment protects the right to disseminate speech from the government. There is nothing more antithetical to free speech than a government demanding what viewpoints are distributed in the name of free expression.”