|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 10, 2018
Will Ask Congress to Review ‘Good Samaritan’ Protection If They Fail to Act
WASHINGTON (NRB) – National Religious Broadcasters has renewed its request to Silicon Valley executives to implement their own free speech charter governing their content moderation or the evangelical organization will ask Congress to review the “Good Samaritan” protection the social media giants enjoy.
In December 6 letters to the CEOs of Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Apple, Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, president & CEO of NRB, warns that time is running out for the companies to act as evidence grows of censorship of Christian and conservative viewpoints at the social media companies.
If the companies “do not take concrete action against censorship of Christian and conservative viewpoints by the end of this calendar year, then NRB will be calling for new hearings” Johnson said. “Specifically, we will call for a review of the ‘Good Samaritan’ section of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.”
The provision not only protects internet companies from liability for what users post on their platforms, it also includes a section facilitating their “Good Samaritan” blocking of offensive content by defending them from lawsuits based on content their moderation efforts may have missed. Echoing a statement he first raised in September during remarks at a tech conference in San Francisco, Johnson suggested it may be time to remove or suspend this “extra layer of government-granted content moderation protection for ubiquitous platforms suspected of acting in bad faith.”
While calling for this “reluctantly” and noting such a review should be “very cautious,” Johnson said, “if major tech corporations continue to effectively ignore substantiated cries of viewpoint suppression – intentional or not, algorithmic or human – then I believe it’s time for a remedy.” Reconsideration of Section 230 is preferable to other “possibly heavy-handed government interventions,” he said.
The letters come one year after NRB launched Internet Freedom Watch, a new initiative to draw greater attention to viewpoint censorship on the internet, expanding NRB’s longtime focus on the subject. With the launch of the initiative, NRB sent letters to the same companies. To date, none of the companies has formally responded to the 2017 letters, although some have engaged NRB in various ways.
In the intervening year, the concerns about censorship of Christian and conservative viewpoints has only grown, and so has NRB’s timeline documenting examples of such censorship – now with more than 40 documented cases.
“This timeline does not include every verifiable example of viewpoint suppression, and we believe it is actually only ‘the tip of the iceberg’ with many more instances of censorship going unreported by people who feel they have no recourse,” Johnson said.
While some continue to claim concerns about censorship are a “hoax” or “conservative fantasy,” Johnson commended President Donald Trump, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, and Members of Congress who have become “powerfully vocal” about the growing problem.
In launching Internet Freedom Watch, NRB 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.”
Last December, NRB also called for congressional hearings about internet censorship. Since then, CEOs of Facebook and Twitter have appeared before congressional committees where members have pressed them on censorship concerns. Google’s Sundar Pichai is scheduled to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on December 11.
The National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) is a nonpartisan, international association of Christian communicators whose member organizations represent millions of listeners, viewers, and readers. Our mission is to advance biblical truth, promote media excellence, and defend free speech. In addition to promoting standards of excellence, integrity, and accountability, NRB provides networking, educational, ministry, and fellowship opportunities for its members. Learn more at www.nrb.org.
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The annual NRB International Christian Media Convention is the largest nationally and internationally recognized event dedicated solely to assist those in the field of Christian communications. The dynamic Exposition consists of around 200 companies and is an active marketplace for those seeking tools and services to expand their organizations. The next Convention will be held at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California, March 26-29, 2019. This year NRB marks its 75th anniversary as an association. For more information, go to www.nrbconvention.org.
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