SZABO: This Is The Biggest Threat To American Free Speech

[Screenshot MSNBC]

Carl Szabo NetChoice
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While liberals and congressional Democrats want us to think Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter is the “death of democracy,” they’re hiding the real threat to free speech – government. We thought the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Orwellian Disinformation Governance Board, a de-facto ministry of truth, was bad. But it turns out the Biden administration has been working to seize control of online speech under the guise of “disinformation.”

New, leaked documents from DHS show that the department’s efforts to police “misinformation” online is worse than we thought.

The key issue in the “misinformation/disinformation” debate is how those terms are actually defined. Well, the government says what it thinks it is: whatever progressives consider to be “inaccurate information” on issues from “the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic and the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines to racial justice, U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the nature of U.S. support to Ukraine.”

Consider how terrifying this is. DHS could consider an American citizen a “threat” just for saying Biden botched the Afghanistan withdrawal or for suggesting that COVID-19 resulted from a lab leak.

In other words, “dangerous speech” is in the eye of the regulator or whoever holds executive power. And the Biden administration seems to be using the power of DHS to harass and undermine ideas it doesn’t like.

When they cry that we’re being overdramatic here, and that their efforts to suppress misinformation will be used only to regulate generally agreeable content, let us not forget what Democrats have deemed as “dangerous” in the past. They have called parents terrorists. They have accused DeSantis of wanting to kill people by keeping Florida open during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of course, one of the most insidious abuses of government coercion is the suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story. After calling that story an act of “disinformation,” it turns out much of it was true. Only now have we learned it was our own FBI that told social media websites to essentially bury the story.

The threat from the government goes all the way to the top. Ahead of the midterms, President Biden called on his backers in Congress to repeal the internet’s foundational law, Section 230. This is yet another coercive attempt by this administration to control free speech online – essentially saying, “websites do what we want or we are going to destroy you.”

Many in the tech community are appalled by the Biden administration’s actions. Mark Zuckerberg lamented his being misled by the FBI, and tech leaders in Palo Alto warned about Biden’s Disinformation Governance Board.

But still, some in tech support this government takeover of the internet, including the largest company in the world—Microsoft. Microsoft supports Biden — even his takeover of speech—and his efforts to protect Microsoft’s stranglehold on government word processing and operating systems. Microsoft knows it puts billions of dollars at risk if it stands up for free speech and is making a business decision to support this de-facto Ministry of Truth.

As Musk’s acquisition of Twitter exposed, Biden and Congressional Democrats fear losing the control over speech and as Microsoft’s support of this new Ministry of Truth shows, we can’t rely on government to stay in its constitutionally-delineated lane. We need Congress to make clear to Biden and all federal employees that this governmental censorship must not happen.

Thankfully, there is legislation in Congress that is trying to stop this madness. The Protecting Speech from Government Interference Act introduced by GOP Reps. James Comer, Jim Jordan, Cathy McMorris Rodgers would do just that. This legislation simply says that federal employees can’t use their positions to censor speech.

With a president and administration actively working to undermine free speech, we can’t wait any longer to stop this. The thing about government takeover of free speech is you don’t know it’s gone until it’s too late. While some falsely complain that more choice and freedom on Twitter is bad, the real threat to free speech is the Biden administration and DHS.


Carl Szabo is Vice President and General Counsel for NetChoice, and a professor of internet law at the George Mason Antonin Scalia Law School.  

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller.