Democracy took a big blow when Twitter shut down President Trump’s accounts and Google and Amazon ousted Parler, a site favored by millions of conservatives.
Big tech, which is run by the left, is robbing Americans of their right to communicate freely and exchange ideas.
The nation’s Founders worried that government would use its power to censure and crush competing viewpoints. Their remedy was the First Amendment, guaranteeing all of us freedom of speech and association and barring government censorship.
The Founders had no way of anticipating that tech companies would grow more powerful than governments, and have the monopolistic ability to suppress or cancel political viewpoints.
Moving forward a few centuries, we now have Facebook and Twitter who "wield the unchecked power to remove people from platforms that have become indispensable for the speech of billions," explains ACLU lawyer Kate Ruane.
And Google — now the eponym for all internet searching, suppresses content by placing it on a distant page few searchers will ever get to.
At one time, newspapers were the staunchest defenders of the First Amendment and the marketplace of ideas.
After President Trump’s Twitter accounts were cancelled, The New York Times’ tech newsletter advocated more censorship, not less. It called for censoring "habitual online misleaders," and cracking down on some 25 "influential repeat spreaders of false information," such as radio host and Fox News contributor Dan Bongino.
But who decides what's false?
For 200 hundred years, Americans believed, in the words of Oliver Wendell Holmes, that "the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market."
Now — the public is supposed to capitulate to what the lefties working for Twitter and other big tech companies say is true.
Twitter and Facebook posed as "fact checkers" to limit the spread of accurate New York Post reporting about incriminating content on Hunter Biden’s laptop.
Did they want to make sure the average American voter didn’t see it before voting?
Americans should be outraged over what amounts to high-tech tyranny.
The American people are being robbed of access to the marketplace of ideas.
This is threatening to destroy political freedom.
Elections themselves aren’t fair if voters are kept from hearing competing views and facts about candidates.
What’s the solution?
So far the focus has been on repealing Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects the tech giants from being sued for what they post, based on the fiction that they are merely unbiased platforms.
Republicans want their liability removed, but that may incentivize them to limit content even more, just as many Democrats want.
The better approach is to treat these tech platforms as public utilities, just like water, electric, telephone, and gas companies and regulate them as utilities.
Let's face it, they’re monopolies, and they provide essential services to a dependent public.
Public utilities cannot withhold services from customers based on their political views.
President Trump proposed a similar approach last July.
But with Democrats in control of Congress and the White House, that’s unlikely to happen.
Help is more likely to come from the U.S. Supreme Court, when a litigant challenges being censored by a tech giant.
The Justices are poised to protect access to social media as a fundamental right.
In 2017, the high court struck down a North Carolina law that barred registered sex offenders from using Facebook, Twitter and similar tech platforms.
The Justices unanimously ruled that the North Carolina law deprived sex offenders of right to find out what members of their government are saying and doing.
Kagan called social media "a crucially important channel of political communication."
If sex offenders are guaranteed access to social media, how can conservatives be blocked?
Expect the Justices to broaden the First Amendment to limit tech abuses.
The Constitution bars government from limiting what we see and hear, so why should five tech companies that no one elected have that power?
Betsy McCaughey, Ph.D., is Chairman of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths. Read more of Betsy McCaughey's reports — Here Now.
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