Invoice Banning Social Media Censorship Killed In Committee – Sheridan Media
This story first appeared on Cowboy State Daily
By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
A measure designed to prevent internet companies like Twitter and Facebook from blocking certain opinions was killed on Monday in a House committee when members expressed concern about the government telling companies what to do.
Senate Act 100 was defeated by 3-6 votes in the House Judiciary Committee after members asked if the state should tell private companies how to moderate comments on their websites.
“What this is is the government, telling businesses what they can and can’t do,” said Rep. Ember Oakley, R-Riverton. “Conceptually it seems to be the opposite when we are in this area of the First Amendment.”
The bill would prohibit interactive Internet companies like Twitter and Facebook from discriminating against a person who posted a message based on “point of view, race, religion and location”. Anyone who believes a company is breaking the rule can apply for $ 50,000 in compensation.
Harriet Hageman, an attorney with the New Civil Liberties Alliance, said there are examples of some statements being removed from social media, such as by people who believe the 2020 elections were irregular. She also pointed to larger companies blocking access to popular conservatives from a social media company.
Senator Cheri Steinmetz, R-Lingle, said that since such companies have a monopoly on social media, they should be regulated to ensure residents are treated fairly.
“When you have a company that is basically a monopoly … you can regulate it or get an antitrust appeal,” she said. “And it’s a government obligation to protect our citizens when a company gets too big and too monopoly.”
However, several members of the committee noted that while there are guarantees of freedom of expression in public spaces, private companies do not have the same protection.
“My understanding is that it’s just about whether or not it’s the public space,” said the chairman of the committee, Rep. Jared Olsen, R-Cheyenne. “Are we saying that Facebook should be the public space?”
The bill was rejected by several Internet organizations such as NetChoice and the Internet Association, which also questioned the state’s ability to dictate private businesses.
Mike Smith, a representative for the Internet Association, noted that the Wyoming Supreme Court ruled that the first change does not apply to private companies.
“This idea that the first change is private property is dangerous and I don’t want us to go under,” he said.
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