In yesterday’s article — While you weren’t looking, tyrants in Washington attacked liberty – Part I — I introduced you to a bill making its way through the House that will give Trump and future presidents unlimited access to the private information of internet and telecommunications subscribers if it becomes law. In today’s Part II edition, I will introduce you to a Senate plan that will give the federal government total control over social media and online messaging platforms.
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 states that, with some exceptions, internet companies are not legally responsible for content published on their sites if it was published by someone else. It also says they can’t be held liable if they take down content they or their users consider “obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectional.”
Despite claims by so-called conservatives like Ted Cruz, companies protected by Section 230 are NOT required to be politically “neutral.” In fact, this protection applies regardless of political bias and must be to protect our God-given rights. Still, in the Age of Trump where unfavorable news is automatically “Fake News,” he and the GOP are using Section 230 as a vehicle to give the government more control over internet content.
In August last year, Trump proposed an executive order giving the FCC oversight on how social media sites moderate their platforms. Ironically dubbed “Protecting Americans from Online Censorship,” the order calls for the FCC to create a new set of rules to determine when Section 230 should apply and when it shouldn’t.
Trump’s bought-and-paid for Attorney General, William Barr, has joined his boss in working to dismantle Section 230. In a clear abuse of power, Barr intends to punish the internet industry for refusing to cooperate with Big Brother’s demand to give the federal government backdoor access to encrypted information.
Enter Lindsey Graham. The senator from South Carolina has a plan to make Trump’s and Barr’s goal of taking down internet companies fighting tyrannical government a reality. Known as the Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies (EARN IT) Act, the yet-to-be-introduced bill will create a commission empowered to deny or grant Section 230 protections for social media platforms based on their “compliance” with yet-to-be-created federal guidelines.
The draft of Graham’s bill also threatens companies like Apple if they refuse to give the federal government access to the encrypted information they are demanding.
This isn’t Graham’s first attack on free speech — in 2013 he joined Chuck Schumer to create the “Media Shield Bill.” Allegedly created to protect the media from tyrannical government, the MSB specifically targeted bloggers and other “non-journalists” and would have literally destroyed their First Amendment rights. It would have also laid the foundation for the creation a government-sanctioned press.
The tyrannical assault on liberty has intensified in the Age of Trump, and most of the damage has occurred when we weren’t looking.
For a primer on Section 230 and the motivation behind those who want to see it destroyed in favor of more government control of the internet, check out the video below from Reason.com.
David Leach is the owner of the Strident Conservative.