US Supreme Court nearly dictates lower court to strike down Florida/Texas restriction on platform’s voluntary moderation of political content – per Open Net’s amicus opinion!

by | Jul 2, 2024 | Free Speech, Press Release | 0 comments

On July 1, the US Supreme Court sent back to lower courts Texas and Florida laws restricting platforms’ ability to moderate user created contents on a technicality but gave a clear guideline on constitutionality of the states’ attempt to “interfere with private actors’ speech to advance its own vision of ideological balance” calling such interest “not valid.” (See below).

Open Net, jointly with Article 19 and UC Irvine Law School’s International Justice Clinic, had submitted an amicus brief to the US Supreme Court early this year exactly on this point, after these laws have been passed by the Republican-led legislatures of the two states in response to Facebook and Twitter’s deplatforming of the former President Trump when he instigated violent rebellion against the results of the November 2020 U.S. Presidential Election culminating in the January 6 Capitol Hill attack, and subsequently challenged in court.

Open Net has for years has fought against administrative censorship by South Korea’s Korean Communication Standards Commission as it has been used by the incumbents to suppress minority’s speech such as women in need of medical abortion or objective information on North Korea. Open Net believes that, whether the government intervenes directly on contents or the platform’s moderation on them, it risks politicized suppression of the speech that is not harmful and otherwise lawful. Open Net therefore has opposed the bills in South Korea restricting platforms’ ability to curate contents under the pretext of neutrality on search results and contents recommendation several times. Open Net contributed to the amicus brief its experience and research with the inevitably politicized censorship to demonstrate the harms of the censorship effects of the the Texas and Florida law. Although the main body of the laws are enforced through judicial injunction, the U.S. Supreme Court has already spoke on how vaguely worded censorship standards can create prior restraint even if they are enforced by courts in Near v. Minnesota. Especially, Florida law allows the Election Commission to directly fine social media companies, risking even more politicized intervention.



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