“Private Censorship” of
Political, Opinion and Scientific Speech
COMMENTS TO FCC
Among the many serious issues facing the American electorate during this “Year of the Plague” has been “private censorship” of political speech on the Internet. Whether this year’s elections are free and fair may very well be determined by online communications.
Will the Internet be a Free Speech Public Space or a
Censored Pseudo-Public Space?
Should Internet service providers be empowered to decide what political or other speech and scientific discourse is allowable?
The social media corporations are in law “creatures of the state” existing by virtue of the grant of the corporate franchise which permits such entities privileges that are not applicable to purely private persons, including the limited liability privilege and the privilege of selling shares to the public as joint stock companies, to profit from the use of the Internet Public Utility. Under Federal Law they have the further privilege of the Section 230 exemption from liability for the content of Speech expressed on their platforms.
While these companies appear, to some degree, as “private” businesses, they act over the Internet Public Utility. They act n the commons “under color of law” and are therefore more akin to government agencies than to private actors.
The Key Words
Section 230 of the Telecommunications Act uses the words “or otherwise objectionable” in its provision protecting service providers if they remove “pornography” from their services. The term “or otherwise objectionable” could not have been intended by Congress to embrace political or other opinion speech and scientific discourse, since such speech is not legally the equivalent of pornographic communications. The one is protected by the First Amendment’s absolute protection for Freedom of Speech while the other is not fully recognized as protected speech.
Courts have distinguished between pornography and all other speech. While it is therefore possible for courts to interpret Section 230 as not allowing the service providers to censor political and similar opinion speech, it would be best if Congress and the President worked together to amend the law to better protect speech.
2020 STOP CENSORSHIP BILL
“We The People urge President Trump to support the passage of H.R. 7808 “Stop the Censorship Act of 2020” by encouraging a companion Senate bill that mirrors it, and signing to law once it passes because Censorship threatens FREE & FAIR Elections.
H.R. 7808 amends Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (Section 230) by granting immunity to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other Social Media platforms for the removal of UNLAWFUL MATERIAL instead of “otherwise objectionable,” and provides users with options to filter.”
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Comments by Ralph Fucetola JD
Institute President Submits Public Comments
FCC SHOULD PROTECT THE INTERNET PUBLIC COMMONS
ABSTRACT: Comments submitted on 7 August 2020 by Ralph Fucetola JD with reference to the Department of Commerce’s Federal Communications Commission Petition #11862 of 27 July 2020 seeking clarification of provisions of 47 U.S.C § 230.
— Acknowledging the recent actions of Twitter and Facebook to ban speech by President Trump allegedly determined to be “false” by “third party fact checkers” I am submitting these comments as a retired attorney at law with 36 years of practice.
— I am concerned with the actions of various social media companies in “banning” [a term that reminds me of the evils of Apartheid] various persons, including President Trump, for political speech.
— The apparent coordinated “bannings” of various speakers, including, for example Alex Jones (who was banned by several social media companies during one 24 hour period in late September, 2018) suggests unlawful conspiracy by the companies in their use of the Internet Public Utility or Public Commons.
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