WASHINGTON (NRB) – Following a congressional hearing yesterday at which Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was grilled on concerns of censorship and bias, Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, president & CEO of National Religious Broadcasters (NRB), is calling for immediate action – ideally by the tech companies themselves – to address the problem of online censorship of Christian and conservative viewpoints.
“Now – right now – it’s go-time for free speech. That is the message Silicon Valley must take away from yesterday’s hearing,” said Johnson. “Fix yourself or someone will try to fix you.”
Johnson added, “NRB has for years suggested a free speech charter based on First Amendment jurisprudence as the basis for an industry-crafted code of conduct. I urge Jack Dorsey and his fellow Big Tech executives to assemble together immediately to fix the undeniable viewpoint suppression problem themselves.”
Numerous ideas have been floated by public officials and others by which the government may address the growing censorship problem. Among these are the imposition of new transparency requirements, a re-evaluation of the Good Samaritan clause of the Communications Decency Act’s powerful Section 230, and possibly more heavy-handed measures against ubiquitous tech giants. The U.S. Department of Justice announced yesterday it’s also looking into this matter of viewpoint suppression – to see if tech titans “may be hurting competition and intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas on their platforms.”
Earlier this year, the NRB Board of Directors, a body of approximately 100 key leaders among Christian communicators, unanimously approved a resolution that noted, “NRB has urged caution about new regulatory regimes and has lauded the value of free enterprise.” However, it also highlights NRB’s documentation of religious viewpoint censorship by Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other edge providers. Indeed, NRB’s Internet Freedom Watch initiative shows examples of censorship in a timeline dating back to Apple’s 2010 discrimination against the late Chuck Colson’s Manhattan Declaration app. The NRB Board resolution urges a “light touch” on the internet by the U.S. government, but also urges such tech giants “to honor First Amendment values as refined by centuries of American jurisprudence and to faithfully apply those principles in their policies and practices.”
“It may or may not be intentional, but there is well-documented censorship, and that cannot be ignored forever by the people’s representatives in Congress,” declared Johnson. “We need to be very careful not to stifle innovation or, worse, to open the door to Big Brother or an internet Fairness Doctrine. However, light touch doesn’t mean no touch.”
Johnson concluded, “I agree with Rep. Morgan Griffith when he told Dorsey yesterday that the ideal is for the industry leaders – not the government – to take action on responsible standards, but that there is a problem and somebody has to do something. We at NRB stand ready to help however we can, but Big Tech executives must act now.”
Of note, Dorsey responded to Rep. Griffith (R-Va.), “It’s a great idea.”
Find here a relevant letter to Dorsey sent last December at the launch of Internet Freedom Watch. Similar letters were sent to other Silicon Valley executives seeking dialogue, but all have so far gone unanswered.
9-7-18 3:52 p.m. kawx.org