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Arlington, Va. – Today, the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on The Constitution will hold a hearing focused on allegations that internet companies censor conservative speakers. The hearing, titled “Stifling Free Speech: Technological Censorship and the Public Discourse,” was called by Senator Ted Cruz who has voiced concern over alleged censorship from online platforms.
Americans for Prosperity Senior Tech Policy Analyst Billy Easley issued the following statement:
“Senator Cruz is right: tech companies ought to provide an open platform for speech across the political and ideological spectrum. But asking the government to police online speech – either through direct action or by cajoling private firms – sets a dangerous precedent that will undermine essential elements of free speech. Government regulation of digital speech won’t protect free speech. It will only increase the likelihood of government censorship.
“Tech companies have the freedom to run their businesses as they see fit, including setting standards for what user content they do and do not want to host, and Americans have the right to speak through alternative platforms or share their opinions elsewhere.
“Today’s largest tech platforms may have the means to manage the legal risk of administering an online speech code but smaller startups do not, so regulation intended to curtail the influence of large tech companies would only cement it.”
American free speech laws, including Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, do not require tech companies to provide a neutral public forum. The section states that Congress finds “the Internet and other interactive computer services offer a forum for a true diversity of political discourse, unique opportunities for cultural development, and myriad avenues for intellectual activity.” Americans for Prosperity shares TechFreedom’s belief that a “Fairness Doctrine for the Internet” is a dangerous idea that would undermine free expression.
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