On Friday the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals allowed a Texas state law to remain in place that would stop large social media platforms from banning or restricting certain opinions.
Texas’ HB 20 was signed last year and prohibits social media platforms with over 50 million monthly U.S. users from censoring users based on their opinions.
The Computer Communications Industry Association (CCIA) along with NetChoice organization, who were representing social media companies, argued to the court that parts of the bill were unconstitutional.
“In urging such sweeping relief, the platforms offer a rather odd inversion of the First Amendment,” the court said in its ruling. “That Amendment, of course, protects every person’s right to ‘the freedom of speech.’ But the platforms argue that buried somewhere in the person’s enumerated right to free speech lies a corporation’s unenumerated right to muzzle speech.”
According to Politico, the appeals court must provide the district court that previously decided the case with a clear and written instructions for the law to be put in place. CCIA and Netchoice raised an emergency request last May for the law to be put on ice, which they won by a 5-4 ruling.
Appealing Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton praised the court’s decision on Friday, saying on Twitter: “#BigTech CANNOT censor the political voices of ANY Texan! The 5th Circuit ‘reject[s] the idea that corporations have a freewheeling First Amendment right to censor what people say.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s former counsel Andrew Oldham also expressed his relief at the court’s decision.
“Today we reject the idea that corporations have a freewheeling First Amendment right to censor what people say,” Oldham said.
CCIA President Matt Schruers hit out at the decision, saying: “We strongly disagree with the court’s decision. Forcing private companies to give equal treatment to all viewpoints on their platform’s places foreign propaganda and extremism on equal footing with decent Internet users, and places Americans at risk.”
CCIA spokesperson Heather Greenfield added that CCIA is currently “evaluating options.”
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: ARSTECHNICA.COM
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