by Stephen Lendman
Digital democracy is the last frontier of free and open expression, letting everyone express views freely on any issues.
Abolishing Net Neutrality risks censorship, giving cable and telecom giants greater power to control content.
Numerous lawsuits by states and private groups were filed to save Net Neutrality, Free Press.net’s the latest, a statement saying “(w)e’re suing the FCC over its shameful decision to destroy the Net Neutrality rules.”
“Chairman Pai and the two other Republican commissioners voted to destroy the open internet, ignoring the voices of tens of millions of people and handing control of the internet to companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon.”
“These companies are now free to carve the internet into fast and slow lanes. They could block or slow down any content, services or apps they choose – and even silence political speech they disagree with.”
“This is terrifying for anyone using the internet to organize for justice and challenge the powerful.”
It’s how totalitarian societies are run, powerful interests controlling the narrative, shutting off alternative views, blocking free and open expression – where America is heading without digital democracy.
Trump and bipartisan hardline congressional members oppose Net Neutrality. The best chance of saving it is by sustained overwhelming public activism.
On February 27, a free and open Internet sustained another body blow. House members overwhelmingly passes HR 1865 – the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA).
The measure has nothing to do with fighting sex traffickers, everything to do with online censorship – permitting private lawsuits and criminal prosecutions against ISPs and websites for sex-related content deemed objectionable.
It encourages platforms to disallow user speech if liability is risked. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects them, with certain exceptions.
FOSTA changes the rules, online platforms potentially liable for sex trafficking related content they may not be aware of.
If they can be sued for actions of their users on this issue, what’s next? Laws already exist to hold sex traffickers accountable.
FOSTA isn’t needed, yet looks virtually certain to become law. A Senate committee approved a similar measure, passage likely and enactment into law by Trump.
The bill risks online censorship. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protected free and open online content for over two decades.
Sex traffickers should be held accountable for their crimes – not by Internet censorship, not at the expense of digital democracy.
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My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”