WASHINGTON — The Trump administration today issued its Preventing Online Censorship executive order. The executive order calls on federal agencies to protect against arbitrary speech restrictions online, to prohibit federal spending on advertising with online platforms that violate the government’s free speech policies, to investigate how these companies might be using unfair or deceptive practices, and calls on the Department of Justice to establish a working group to examine how internet companies might be violating state laws against unfair and deceptive practices.
Heritage Foundation President Kay C. James responded to the executive order:
“Free speech in an open marketplace of ideas is one of America’s bedrock principles, and the internet has made an enormous contribution in advancing robust public debate. Another foundational idea that built America is our free enterprise system in which government does not overstep its authority and unjustly interfere with the freedom of private individuals and businesses.
“As the administration continues its work in this space, The Heritage Foundation looks forward to making conservative policy recommendations that balance these two foundational principles. Government policy should maximize the freedom of users, entrepreneurs, and private companies.”
Klon Kitchen, director of Heritage’s Center for Technology Policy, also observed the following:
“What Twitter did in ‘fact-checking’ the president this way was ill-considered. First, they were factually wrong – as Heritage analysis demonstrates. But second, it demonstrates a profound misreading of popular sentiment and of public political will.
“It is also important to understand it is not just the president who is concerned about online political speech. According to the Pew Research Center, 72% of Americans think ‘social media platforms actively censor political views that those companies find objectionable.’ Tech companies have done little to address frustrations that many Americans have about ideological bias on social media platforms and this indifference is now coming back to bite them.
“The president’s actions in the executive order are well within his constitutional rights and authorities, and a review of Section 230 is appropriate. The new executive order also makes clear that the protections internet companies have enjoyed are not a right but are a privilege that is going to get a hard look and may even be taken away. But how this review is carried out and how these government agencies proceed is very important and we will continue to provide the best policy insight and recommendations on these critical issues.”