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Blog

How Big Tech gets away with censorship: 5 facts about §230

As FreedomWorks takes a new position on §230, to date, we have published two pieces that provide important context to this discussion. The first detailed why the statute was passed, the short congressional debates, and what the statute says in plain English. The second detailed how courts have misconstrued the statutory text that has led us to the position we find ourselves in today. Before our final post, which will detail solutions and possible ways forward, this post will respond to several arguments we have seen in response to our first two posts.

06/14/2022
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Op-ed Placement

Big Tech's First Amendment Argument Might Eviscerate Section 230

Last month, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals held that several parts of Florida’s social media law, S.B. 7072, were likely unconstitutional. That sentence should give readers pause. The court’s decision did not rest on Section 230. Rather, it rested on the argument that social media platforms (platforms) enjoy a First Amendment right to censor, shadow-ban, deplatform, and moderate third-party content in any way they want. Last week, the Supreme Court blocked a similar Texas social media law from being enforced that the 5th Circuit greenlighted. While the justices that granted relief from the shadow docket did not explain their reasoning, the decision resulted in an unusual 5-4 split.

06/09/2022
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Blog

How Big Tech gets away with censorship: how the courts have misinterpreted §230

This is the second of three posts examining Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, commonly known as §230. While the law was enacted with the best of intentions to allow the internet to flourish, it has been misconstrued by courts for decades and is being taken advantage of by Big Tech companies. This post examines how the courts have wrongfully interpreted §230, straying far from the plain meaning of the text. The first post examined the events that led to §230’s enactment, its short legislative history, and what the law actually says. The final post will consider solutions to fixing §230, and which might be the most advantageous from a constitutional and policy perspective.

05/19/2022
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Blog

How Big Tech gets away with censorship: what is § 230 and why was it enacted?

This is the first of three posts examining Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, commonly known as § 230. While the law was enacted with the best of intentions to allow the internet to flourish, it has been misconstrued by courts for decades and is being taken advantage of by big tech companies. This post examines the events that led to § 230 being enacted, the short legislative history, and what the law actually says. The next post will examine how courts have wrongfully interpreted § 230, straying far away from the plain meaning of its unambiguous text. The final post will consider several solutions to fixing § 230, and which might be the most advantageous from a constitutional and policy perspective.

04/19/2022
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Blog

The Revised EARN IT Act is Still Awful

About a month ago, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed Senator Lindsey Graham’s (R-S.C.) EARN IT Act, S. 3398, setting up a potential full Senate vote. With very few legislative days left on the Senate’s calendar between now and November’s elections, it is highly possible that Senator Graham may try to quickly pass his bill. Although the bill is marketed as combatting child sexual abuse materials (CSAM) online, the bill was -- and, even after being amended, remains -- a thinly veiled assault on encryption.

08/05/2020
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Blog

EARN IT Remains a Thinly Veiled Assault on Encryption

The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to mark up a bill that is a classic piece of Washington, D.C. misdirection. The Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies (EARN IT) Act, S. 3398, presents itself as a bill targeted at fighting the spread of child pornography (rebranded as “child sexual abuse material,” or “CSAM”), which obviously no decent person would oppose. However, the actual impact of the bill reaches far beyond this purpose, simultaneously threatening both tech platforms’ liability protections and their ability to deploy strong encryption for their users, endangering innocent Americans’ security in the process.

07/01/2020
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Blog

Messing with Section 230 Protections Will Backfire

A question every liberty lover should store away in the back of their brains when considering policy is this: Would I be okay with this policy if people who despise me were in charge? As a rule of thumb, if the answer to this question is “no” then you should run for the hills and never consider it again. Sadly, there are folks in the conservative movement who have not heeded this sage advice.

05/29/2020