Free Press’ “Hate Speech” Censorship Will Expand ‘Net-wide via Net Neutrality – As Designed

by Mike Wendy on October 31, 2018

Last week, “media reform” group Free Press joined a coalition run by the Southern Poverty Law Center to censor online “hate.” As Free Press notes:

“While a free and open internet creates immense social value, it can also be used to engage in hateful activities on a large scale. White-supremacist groups and other organizations inciting hate are using online platforms to organize, fund, recruit supporters for, and normalize racism, sexism, religious bigotry, homophobia, transphobia and anti-immigrant animus. This chills the online speech of the targeted groups, curbs democratic participation and threatens people’s safety and freedom in real life.” (Emphasis added)

So, they’ve come up with a set of policies for online providers to police (censor) “hateful activities,” which they define as:

“…[A]ctivities that incite or engage in violence, intimidation, harassment, threats, or defamation targeting an individual or group based on their actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, immigration status, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability.”

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I abhor hateful speech.  But, quite frankly, this all looks like a fishing expedition, designed primarily to shut down and chill the free expression of the new “other.” That is, the “deplorable,” conservative (Caucasian) individual.  Sadly, it won’t be limited to stop bogus “hate speech.” It will someday extend to climate deniers, or ObamaCare skeptics, or NRA members, or anti-vaxxers, or Pro-Lifers, or anyone and cause that falls out-of-sorts with the progressive PC police who need to limit “bad speech” to arrive at “good speech” for the “collective.”

Right now, the guidelines are not a First Amendment issue because they involve only private actors. Moreover, there is no so-called “hate speech” exception in the First Amendment, which would allow overt prior restraint or punishment of “hate speech.” But, give it time. Senate Democrats like Virginia’s Mark Warner are working in overdrive to exploit the current spate of “fake news” speech controversies as perfect justification for Congress to act (that is, censor) “bad actors” on the ‘Net to protect our much beloved “Internet openness.”

Groups like Free Press have long been working toward this ideal. You know, where elites, not the marketplace, decide what’s “appropriate” to telecast, upending the clear restrictions on government censorship enshrined in the First Amendment. They were integral in helping the Obama FCC impose Title II Net Neutrality on the Internet, which stripped away the First Amendment rights of broadband providers and their partners in order to protect “Internet openness.” If they come back into fashion with an FCC like the previous administration, most assuredly they’ll work to re-impose Title II Net Neutrality (or some variant of it).

More than ISPs will be in the crosshairs if this occurs.

The way Net Neutrality was purposely written – with its “independent grant of authority” to nurture “openness” and protect the Internet’s “virtuous circle” of development – many experts believe this construct cannot be constrained to regulate only network providers. That means Free Press’ dreams of censorship can easily make their way to punish most any activity, service or practice in the ecosystem (like Alex Jones’ Infowars, or Drudge) that an FCC somehow deems “harms” the Internet’s “virtuous circle.”

At this point, Free Press and its “media reform” comrades can only shame edge providers into censoring “hate speech.” If they had the power, they’d take it further.  Consequently, expect this blueprint for censorship to encompass the entire ‘Net – not just “evil” ISPs and cable companies – with a progressive in the White House and his / her control of the next FCC.

That “media reform” nocturnal emission was always ever the design of Net Neutrality.

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