Today, NetChoice raised concerns about suggestions made by members of the US Senate Judiciary Subcommittee that government should prevent online platforms from removing content they find objectionable ahead of today’s hearing, “Stifling Free Speech: Technological Censorship and the Public Discourse”.
“If we prevent online platforms from removing objectionable content, we risk turning online platforms into 8-Chan,” said Carl Szabo, General Counsel for NetChoice. “Section 230 was specifically created to enable private platforms to remove offensive content.”
“Online platforms have bolstered conservative speech in public discourse, empowering modern conservative thought leaders such as Ben Shapiro, Jordan Peterson, and Blaire White,” continued Szabo.
“Sen. Cruz is a smart lawyer who surely wants online platforms to remove violent and hateful content, so he’s not really looking to apply the first amendment to private parties.” said Steve DelBianco, President of NetChoice. “Sen. Cruz just wants assurances that online platforms are not curtailing conservative speech. We look forward to today’s witnesses giving him those assurances.”
Today, NetChoice was concerned by suggestions made during the US Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution Hearing: Stifling Free Speech: Technological Censorship and the Public Discourse to prevent platforms from removing content it finds objectionable.
“Despite the misinformation, Section 230 was specifically created to enable content moderation and removal of offensive content.” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel for NetChoice. “It’s surprising that conservatives support the Hobby Lobby decision while oppose the rights of private platforms to remove content they deem objectionable to users and advertisers.”
“Preclusions on platforms removing content would require ChristiansLikeMe to retain atheist’s “political” comments.” warned Szabo. “If we prevent online platforms from removing objectionable content we risk turning the whole internet into 8-Chan.”
Today, NetChoice commended Congressman Darin LaHood (R-IL) for leading the effort to combat discriminatory tax proposals coming from Europe.
“France’s Digital Service Tax’s (DST) targeting of U.S. companies is the poster child for taxation without representation,” said Carl Szabo, VP and General Counsel at NetChoice. “These taxes are designed to target American businesses regardless of whether they’re physically present in Europe.”
“France’s DST ignores advertising by newspapers and television by only taxing online businesses, most of whom are housed in the United States. DST is obviously intentional and patently unfair,” continued Szabo. “We commend Rep. LaHood for his initiative in pushing the White House to protect America’s businesses and combat this tax by a foreign power.”
Today, NetChoice and the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) voiced concerns over the “Journalism Competition and Preservation Act,” reintroduced by Rep. Cicilline (D-RI), and co-sponsored by Rep. Collins (R-GA).
The legislation would exempt media companies from certain antitrust laws, allowing them to collude against online platforms such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter.
“This bill empowers big media to circumvent antitrust laws and collude to grow their power.” said Carl Szabo, VP and General Counsel at NetChoice. “We should reject attempts by those representing the ‘old economy’ to maintain relevance and gain advantages to the detriment of the consumer.”
“This legislation empowers big media to force prioritization of their content over their competitors,” continued Szabo.
TPA President David Williams also voiced concerns with the legislation’s text arguing “Companies should get equal treatment under the law, instead of big media companies enjoying a lucrative exemption from antitrust laws.”
“Instead of complicating regulations via special carve-outs, lawmakers should look to simplify rules and promote digital innovation.”
Today, NetChoice was concerned by suggestions made by Sen. Cory Booker during a campaign event in Washington that suggested he could weaponize antitrust law against American tech companies.
“We are not seeing a call for antitrust enforcement but rather an attack on successful businesses,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel at NetChoice. “Breaking-up America’s most successful innovators will leave a vacuum only to be filled by foreign enterprises.”
“Antitrust should not be exploited for political purposes – to do so undermines the American public’s trust in fair and honest enforcement of laws,” continued Szabo.
“The reaction to Sen. Warren’s antitrust proposal shows that Americans want fair rather than political enforcement of antitrust laws.”
“Zuckerberg rightly raised the threat to American businesses from data nationalization laws around the world, many of which intentionally target the U.S. tech economy,” said Steve DelBianco, President of NetChoice.
“Zuckerberg welcomed national or even global consensus about standards to moderate harmful content such as hate speech and terrorist propaganda. Until then, Facebook will continue to moderate content in order to meet the terms of service it promises to users.”
Today, NetChoice identified legal infirmities in Rep. Devin Nunes’s lawsuit against Twitter for comments posted on the platform.
“This lawsuit underscores the importance of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act which empowers platforms to host content and discussions of our elected officials — whether our elected officials like it or not,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel at NetChoice.
“Twitter has been an amazing forum for discussing – and yes, criticizing – our public officials, hopefully this lawsuit doesn’t undermine that.” continued Szabo. “The ability to criticize our public officials is core to our American principles.”
“This suit’s survival is unlikely as the ability to criticize and mock our public officials is well settled court doctrine.”
Today, NetChoice voiced concerns about today’s Ninth Circuit Ruling that could undermine Section 230 and threaten the legal structure that empowers entrepreneurs online.
“The Ninth Circuit’s ruling is wrong and violates the reasoning behind Section 230. This decision risks closing-off avenues of free speech and free enterprise for all Americans,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel at NetChoice. “Section 230 empowers individuals and businesses all over the country through the use of online platforms like HomeAway and Airbnb.”
“This ruling runs contrary to multiple court decisions that have upheld Section 230 and enabled unprecedented innovation.”
NetChoice filed a joint “friend of the court” brief with Hon. Chris Cos on this case last year.
“Sen. Warren is wrong in her assertion that tech companies lack competition,” said Carl Szabo, vice president of the trade group NetChoice that lists both Facebook and Google as members. “Never before have consumers had access to more goods, services, and opportunities online.”
44 smaller outlets also quoted NetChoice.
Today, NetChoice challenged US Senator Warren’s new Medium post supporting the breaking-up of successful American tech businesses like Amazon, Facebook, and Google.
“Sen. Warren is wrong in her assertion that tech markets lack competition. Never before have consumers and workers had more access to goods, services, and opportunities online,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel for NetChoice.
“Breaking up tech companies would hurt – not help – America’s middle class,” continued Szabo.
“Sen. Warren’s proposal would increase prices for consumers, make search and maps less useful, and raise costs to small businesses that advertise online. This proposal is bad for all Americans.”
Startups have never been more prevalent. The Kauffman Index of Growth Entrepreneurship shows that entrepreneurship is at its highest levels since 2008. Main street growth and startup activity are likewise up. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics found self-employment is up since 2014 and is projected to grow at 7.9% — faster than the projected rate for all workers.
Today, NetChoice challenged US Senator Klobuchar’s comments on weaponizing antitrust during today’s Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights – “Does America Have a Monopoly Problem?: Examining Concentration and Competition in the US Economy”
“It’s concerning to hear a US Senator weaponizing antitrust for campaign slogans while in the same breath berating the President over his approach to antitrust,” said Carl Szabo, NetChoice Vice President and General Counsel.
“Contrary to the claims of some presidential candidates, consumers have never had more choice when it comes to online services.”
Below is NetChoice’s statement in advance of tomorrow’s privacy hearing in the House, and Wednesday’s privacy hearing in the Senate. Here are NetChoice’s comments for the record for the House Hearing on consumer privacy.
“We are seeing a fracturing of the internet driven by states introducing disparate privacy bills.” said Carl Szabo, Vice President of NetChoice. “The time has come for establishment of a nationwide standard for privacy online.”
Today, NetChoice raised concerns about House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee suggestions of re-reviewing merger approvals.
“Tearing apart previously approved mergers threatens America’s startups and empowers America’s competitors.” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel for NetChoice.
“We must not take a rear-view mirror approach to merger reviews.” continued Szabo. It’s surprising to hear Rep. Cicilline saying the Obama FTC failed to do an adequate review of mergers.”
For more information read NetChoice’s oped: An antitrust Game of Thrones – The fantasy fight against Google and Facebook
Today, NetChoice raised concerns about Senate Commerce Committee calls for a taskforce to investigate allegations of tech bias against conservatives.
“It is a myth that social media platforms are unregulated. Online platforms are subject to dozens of laws from across the country.” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel for NetChoice.
“Jumping to big government solutions such as a task force to address concerns is counter to conservative principles.” continued Szabo. “This taskforce sets a dangerous precedent that government should intervene in spaces that enable free speech online. Politicians regardless of political affiliation should reject policies that put our online freedoms at risk.”
Today, NetChoice commended Facebook for prioritizing the security of its users by restricting what user data third party apps can access.
“After Cambridge Analytica, Facebook is right to prevent third party apps from abusing their access to Facebook user data,” said Steve DelBianco, President of NetChoice. “Even if a good actor wishes to access Facebook user data, allowing that risks bad actors gaining access too.”
“Facebook is balancing important priorities that traditional media outlets like the Guardian should appreciate rather than tying Facebook up in a Catch-22.”
Washington, D.C. – Today, NetChoice applauded the US Supreme Court’s denial of Certiorari in Hassell v. Yelp, Inc, No. 18-506. This denial retains a California State Supreme Court ruling that Section 230 protections prevent Yelp from being held legally liable for negative reviews posted on their site.
“This case shows the importance of Section 230. Without Section 230 Yelp would be held responsible for negative reviews posted on their site — a legal burden that could shut them down,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel at NetChoice. “Americans increasingly rely on online services like Yelp in their daily lives, services which rely on Section 230 to function.”
Washington, D.C. – Today, NetChoice raised concerns with some Senators’ politically motivated demands to punish the tech industry during the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearing of William Barr.
“Weaponizing antitrust in order to attack online platforms sets a dangerous precedent,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel at NetChoice. “Conservatives should turn to market-based solutions to solve perceived problems, not seek more intervention from big government.”
“Anyone who’s seen the movie “Vice” knows conservatives like Vice President Dick Cheney fought against the so-called fairness doctrine for broadcast TV. Only after eliminating “equal time” mandates did we see the rise of conservative voices like Fox News and Rush Limbaugh,” continued Szabo.
“An internet unhindered by heavy-handed government regulation continues to help conservative voices be heard online. Had the proposals we heard in today’s confirmation hearing been implemented 10 years ago, modern conservative voices like Ben Shapiro and Candace Owens would likely be no more than whispers.”
Today, NetChoice commended the US Southern District Court of New York’s preliminary injunction of NYC’s anti-homesharing ordinance requiring short-term rental platforms, like Airbnb and HomeAway, to hand over huge amounts of sensitive customer data.
“New York City’s fight against their own residents has lead them to defy the constitution and violate the rights of New Yorkers,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel at NetChoice. “New York’s Southern District Court should protect the rights of NYC homeowners. The city’s anti-homesharing laws are dysfunctional and to enforce them New York City is trampling residents’ right to privacy.”
Here are some quotes from the Southern District Court’s decision:
- “[The ordinance] would invite such productions so as to permit regulators to troll these records for potential violations of law, even as to customers as to which there had been no basis theretofore to suspect any violation of law.” P.40
- “Existing Fourth Amendment law does not afford a charter for such a wholesale regulatory appropriation of a company’s user database.” P.40
- “A home-sharing platform has at least two very good reasons to keep host and guest information private, whether as to these users’ identities, contact information, usage patterns, and payment practices. One is competitive: Keeping such data confidential keeps such information from rivals (whether competing platforms or hotels) who might exploit it. The other involves customer relations: Keeping such data private assuredly promotes better relations with, and retention of, a platform’s users.” P.22
Link to opinion and order: netchoice.org/nycpreliminjunction
Today, NetChoice commended efforts by tech platforms to curb manipulation by foreign actors to influence American elections. The statement was made in response to President Trump’s comments made earlier today criticizing online platforms for their moderation efforts.
“Platforms are taking steps to curb manipulation – proactively addressing the issues raised by the recently released Senate Report on Disinformation Campaigns. This should be celebrated, not condemned,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President at NetChoice. “Condemning platforms for addressing foreign interference in our elections sends the wrong message.”
Washington, D.C. – Today, NetChoice commended the Trump Administration for including Article 19.17 in the US-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA). The USMCA contains language from the Communications Decency Act that allows online platforms to engage in good faith content moderation efforts without being subjected to legal liability.
“When it comes to our digital economy, USMCA puts America first,” said Steve DelBianco, President of NetChoice. “Online platform protections make the United States a world leader in tech and innovation, Canada and Mexico will surely benefit from emulating these platform protections.”