|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 29, 2020
WASHINGTON (NRB) – NRB, the world’s pre-eminent association of Christian broadcasters and communicators representing millions of listeners, viewers, and readers worldwide, is encouraged that President Trump’s Executive Order and proposed legislation are opening up an important conversation about the threats posed by powerful social media companies that often censor opinions with which they disagree.
In his Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship, issued Thursday, the President reiterated his “commitment to free and open debate on the internet,” and recognized how leading online platforms “are engaging in selective censorship that is harming our national discourse.”
“We must seek transparency and accountability from online platforms, and encourage standards and tools to protect and preserve the integrity and openness of American discourse and freedom of expression,” the President stated.
The Executive Order goes on to call for reviews of federal spending, law enforcement at the federal and state level, and anti-discrimination laws, as applied to online platforms that may be engaged in viewpoint discrimination, deception to consumers, or other bad practices. The President also called for clarification of the scope of the immunity from liability created by section 230(c) of the Communications Decency Act, which facilitates internet companies’ “Good Samaritan” blocking of offensive content by defending them from lawsuits based on content their moderation efforts may have missed.
“These companies grew because they held themselves out as public forums – as free public forums where a variety voices and diverse voices could come on and be heard,” commented U.S. Attorney General William Barr at the signing of the Executive Order.
“But now that they’ve grown by holding themselves out as free public forums, they’ve now switched, and they are using that market power to force particular viewpoints. And that’s wrong,” he continued. “And it has to be addressed not only through this Executive Order, but I think litigation going forward and further action on Capitol Hill.”
In commenting on the Executive Order, NRB CEO Troy Miller said, “Viewpoint suppression by Big Tech is real – whether intentional or not, by algorithm or by content moderators.
“Ideally, this is a problem that should be resolved by Big Tech and not by the government. However, perhaps this review of the ‘Good Samaritan’ protection will motivate tech platforms to work to create policies that promote fairness and free expression,” he added.
“NRB will continue to be a leading voice in this discussion, working with Congress, tech leaders, and the Administration.”
For nearly a decade now, NRB has called for Silicon Valley leaders to adopt a free speech charter that “utilizes the wisdom of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment,” noting that those freedoms have been “refined by centuries of jurisprudence” and would still permit these platforms to “combat obscenity, incitements to violence, and the like, without unduly burdening free expression with an array of confusing and haphazardly applied speech codes.”
NRB has also expressed support for the Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act, introduced last year by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), which would amend section 230 to encourage providers of interactive computer services to provide content moderation that is viewpoint non-discriminatory regarding political matters.
NRB is a nonpartisan, international association of Christian communicators whose member organizations represent millions of listeners, viewers, and readers. NRB’s mission is two-fold: To protect the free speech rights of our members to speak Biblical truth, by advocating those rights in governmental, corporate, and media sectors; and To foster excellence, integrity, and accountability in our membership by providing networking, educational, ministry, and relational opportunities. Learn more at www.nrb.org.
About the NRB Convention
The annual NRB Christian Media Convention is the largest nationally and internationally recognized event dedicated solely to assist those in the field of Christian communications. The dynamic and award-winning Exposition consists of dozens of organizations and is an active marketplace for those seeking products and services to enhance their own organization. The next Convention will be held at the Gaylord Texan Convention Center & Resort in Grapevine, Texas, March 15-18, 2021. For more information, go to www.nrbconvention.org.
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