NEW YORK (AP) – A tech-focused civil liberties group sued Tuesday to block President Donald Trump’s executive order, which aims to regulate social media, saying it violates the First Amendment and saves the chills.
Trump’s order, signed last week, could allow more lawsuits against internet companies such as Twitter and Facebook for what their users are posting, tweeting and streaming.
The order was more political than substantive, and many experts questioned whether it was constitutional. The president wanted to rally his supporters after Twitter performed fact checks on two of his tweets. Trump has long accused tech companies without evidence of bias against conservatives.
The warrant addresses current law – you may have heard recent references to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act – protecting Internet companies from litigation. They cannot be prosecuted for hosting users’ videos and messages or moderating their services, with a few exceptions.
In his lawsuit, the Center for Democracy and Technology said Trump’s execution order violates the First Amendment because it attacks Twitter for posting actual controls on the president’s tweets, which CDT claims is Twitter’s right as a private company. More generally, the warrant seeks to curb the speech of all online platforms and people “by showing that they are willing to use the government to avenge those who criticize the government,” said CDT.
“The government cannot and should not compel online intermediaries to moderate the speech at the whim of the President,” said Alexandra Givens, CEO of CDT, in an email statement. The organization filed the federal lawsuit with the United States District Court for Columbia District.
There was resistance to Trump’s order from various sources. Unsurprisingly, tech industry groups thought it was bad for innovation and speech. Civil rights and libertarian organizations and the US Chamber of Commerce also criticized Trump’s order.
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