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Criminalizing free speech online? Elizabeth Warren has a plan for that

Criminalizing free speech online? Elizabeth Warren has a plan for that

Postby smix » Thu Jan 30, 2020 1:58 pm

Criminalizing free speech online? Elizabeth Warren has a plan for that
Washington Examiner

URL: https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opin ... ech-online
Category: Politics
Published: January 29, 2020

Description: Elizabeth Warren has a plan for that. And by “that,” I mean a chilling crackdown on free speech in the name of combating disinformation online. On Wednesday, the 2020 candidate released a plan that would impose criminal and civil penalties on those who are deemed guilty of spreading “disinformation.” In a tweet unveiling the plan, she said, “Disinformation and online foreign interference erode our democracy, and Donald Trump has invited both.” The Massachusetts Democrat continued, “Anyone who seeks to challenge and defeat Donald Trump in the 2020 election must be fully prepared to take this on—and I've got a plan to do it.”
Disinformation and online foreign interference erode our democracy, and Donald Trump has invited both. Anyone who seeks to challenge and defeat Donald Trump in the 2020 election must be fully prepared to take this on—and I've got a plan to do it.
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) January 29, 2020

There is a real issue with people believing fake or misleading information they see online. And it is true that Russian actors exploited this trend in an attempt to sway or at least influence people's thinking during the 2016 presidential election, even though there’s little evidence they actually made any difference (beyond getting a few thousand clicks on odd Jesus-themed pro-Trump memes and other silly content). But criminalizing “misinformation"? That’s the stance of a dictator seeking to squash dissent, not a candidate trying to win over voters earnestly. Warren’s multipage "disinformation" plan does include some stuff that’s reasonable enough. For instance, she says she will hold her campaign to high standards and not allow the dissemination of any “fake news” or misinformation. That’s a good thing. (Although, Warren should start by addressing the misinformation she herself has spread throughout her entire campaign about implementing "Medicare for all" without raising taxes on the middle class.) Warren also calls on big tech companies such as Facebook and Twitter to make changes voluntarily (at least for now). That's fine, but here’s where things really get wild. In a portion of the plan labeled “Governor actions to address disinformation,” Warren promises to “create civil and criminal penalties for knowingly disseminating false information about when and how to vote in U.S. elections.”
just perfect.

just-perfect.jpg

— Logan Hall (@loganclarkhall) January 29, 2020

In other words, Warren wants to criminalize the spread of information the government deems to be false. This unconstitutional proposal not only flies in the face of the First Amendment and core constitutional principles of free expression, but it’s also ripe for abuse. This isn't the first time Warren has pursued policies that seemingly ignore the First Amendment. She has openly endorsed a "lobbying tax" that sure looks like a blatantly unconstitutional attempt to stifle a constitutionally protected right. As far as this latest anti-speech proposal goes, it is nearly guaranteed to be used to stifle political speech, even if Warren does say that, for now, it will only apply to disinformation about voting in elections. Once we open this door, government censorship will inevitably creep beyond just saying elections are on the wrong day or that would-be censors in power will stretch the definition of "election misinformation" to include political predictions and commentary they dislike. Like it or not, a consequence of free and open debate is that people will have the right to say untrue or misleading things. But the proper response is to answer them in kind and take them on in an open marketplace of ideas, not embrace censorship. What’s really scary is not misleading memes on Facebook. It’s that an actual, mainstream Democratic politician such as Warren is openly advocating for making the government the final arbiter of truth and criminalizing speech she doesn’t like.
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Elizabeth Warren Would Like to Be Appointed as the Arbiter of Truth

Postby smix » Thu Jan 30, 2020 2:30 pm

Elizabeth Warren Would Like to Be Appointed as the Arbiter of Truth
National Review

URL: https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/e ... -of-truth/
Category: Politics
Published: January 29, 2020

Description: Elizabeth Warren has proposed repealing the First Amendment. (Again.) Per CNBC:
Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday released a plan to fight disinformation to hold tech companies accountable for their actions in light of the 2016 election.

That’s one way of putting it, certainly. Another would be: Having bought into the conspiracy theory that the 2016 election was meaningfully affected by people arguing stupidly online, Elizabeth Warren has released a plan for the federal government to regulate the press, the publishing industry, and the Internet. Why? To save democracy, naturally:
“Disinformation and online foreign interference erode our democracy, and Donald Trump has invited both,” Warren said in a Tweet Wednesday. “Anyone who seeks to challenge and defeat Donald Trump in the 2020 election must be fully prepared to take this on – and I’ve got a plan to do it.” Warren proposed to combat disinformation by holding big tech companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google responsible for spreading misinformation designed to suppress voters from turning out. “I will push for new laws that impose tough civil and criminal penalties for knowingly disseminating this kind of information, which has the explicit purpose of undermining the basic right to vote,” Warren said in a press release.

It is difficult to know where to start here. No such “democracy” exemption exists within the First Amendment, and no such exemption should exist within the First Amendment. The merits of my doing so aside, if I wish to say or write that particular people should not vote, or that immigrants such as myself should be disenfranchised or that the 19th Amendment was a mistake, that is my right. Were this not the case — were it the case, that is, that the First Amendment could be regulated in such cases as it were being used to attack other parts of the Constitution — then Elizabeth Warren herself would be liable for prosecution. (Or, at the very least, for being “held accountable” by the president, whatever that means.) Ironically enough, Warren’s proposal would represent a boon to precisely the sort of corruption and entrenchment of power that she insists she wishes to fight. In the vast majority of cases it would be wholly impossible for the government to determine what sort of speech served to “undermine the basic right to vote” or to “to polarize and disenfranchise particular groups” or to “disempower voters,” such that any concerted attempt to do so would necessarily be driven by partisan interest and little else besides. Warren complains that “the same tactics employed by the Russian government are just as easily accessible to domestic groups seeking to promote or oppose candidates and political or social issues.” Those tactics, lest we forget, were . . . arguing about politics. There is simply no way for the federal government to superintend “domestic groups seeking to promote or oppose candidates and political or social issues” without the federal government controlling political speech. It was recently proposed that it should be unconstitutional to vote Republican. Warren’s idea is merely that scheme applied to the First Amendment. In effect, Warren is seeking the power to decide what is true and what is not — and what may be disseminated and what may not — and to apply this power to the elections in which she herself takes part. That she is chasing this authority while accusing the incumbent president of seeking to use his office for personal political gain (which he did) is startling.
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