Home » Perspective » Ronald Collins: Everybody is getting worked up and other First Amendment News

By Ronald K. L.Collins, published on March 22, 2018

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  • “In the first major change to Section 230 in years, Congress is voting this week to make Internet companies take a little more responsibility than they have for content on their sites. . . The Senate is expected to pass the bill as early as Wednesday, sending it to President Trump for his signature. The White House has supported the legislation.””And for the first time, after years of staunch defiance, the Internet Association came out in support of legislation to change Section 230 — shocking smaller Internet companies and digital-rights groups by breaking ranks.”
  • Section 230 lives inside the Communications Decency Act of 1996, and it gives websites broad legal immunity: With some exceptions, online platforms can’t be sued for something posted by a user — and that remains true even if they act a little like publishers, by moderating posts or setting specific standards.”‘Section 230 is as important as the First Amendment to protecting free speech online, certainly here in the U.S.,’ says Emma Llanso, a free-expression advocate at the Center for Democracy and Technology.”
  • “Section 230 is also tied to some of the worst stuff on the Internet, protecting sites when they host revenge porn, extremely gruesome videos or violent death threats. The broad leeway given to Internet companies represents ‘power without responsibility,’ Georgetown University law professor Rebecca Tushnet wrote in an oft-cited paper.
  • “Danielle Citron, a University of Maryland law professor who authored the book Hate Crimes in Cyberspace, argues that responsibility is exactly what’s missing from the law.’Yes, let’s think about the consequences for speech,” she says, pointing to the flip side of the free-wheeling Internet. “There are countless individuals who are chased offline as a result of cyber mobs and harassment.’”

C.J. Roberts is Reshaping The First Amendment

Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux, writing for Five Thirty-Eight, has a new article on Chief Justice Roberts and the First Amendment. Here are some excerpts from her article:

“As of the end of the 2016 term, Roberts had written 34 percent of the free speech decisions the court has handed down since he joined its ranks, and 14 percent of his majority opinions were devoted to the topic. Even when he’s not writing for the majority, Roberts is rarely on the losing side: Out of the 38 free speech cases we counted, he voted with the minority only once.”

→ There is more and I urge readers to review the entire article.


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