Leaked documents provided by CNN show that Donald Trump’s administration drafted an executive order that would reportedly grant the power to police speech on the internet. The order is being called the “Censor the Internet” executive order by critics such as Fight for the Future, a nonprofit that says it works to protect and expand the positive transformative power of the digital landscape.
“[The] leaked documents show that the Trump administration is drafting an executive order that, if upheld by the courts, could essentially end free speech on the Internet,” it reads. “The draft order would put the FTC and the FCC, headed by its notoriously corrupt chairman Ajit Pai, in charge of monitoring and policing online speech on social media platforms, online forums, and more.”
According to Chris Lewis of the nonprofit Public Knowledge, the leaks are “troubling on many levels.” He highlights the order’s potential for First Amendment violations as well as its “apparent disregard” for the independence of agencies like the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Lewis also claims that the bill would “unilaterally limit Section 230,” which is in place to promote online communities that are properly moderated and free of misinformation and hate speech.
“If these reports are a trial balloon from the White House, then it’s time to pop it.”
Leaked draft of Trump Executive Order to ‘censor the Internet’ denounced as dangerous and unconstitutionalhttps://t.co/DKmzbRZqsL
— Raw Story (@RawStory) August 13, 2019
Trump has put himself at the forefront of the purported battle against Republican speech suppression online. After notable voices like Alex Jones, James Woods, and Paul Joseph Watson were banned from social media platforms, many on the right claim that these platforms are being selective with who they host.
Per The Inquisitr, Trump’s White House claims to be taking steps to fight for free speech online. Back in May, it asked users of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to submit their experiences of alleged oppression. However, the tool also asks for respondents’ zip codes and email addresses even when opting out of newsletters.
Interestingly, The Verge reports that the tool is a standard Typeform page as opposed to a weapon to battle free speech. The New York Times technology columnist Kevin Roose said that the data users input into the survey will likely be used to create a voter profile and end up back on social media platforms. Roose claims that Trump could pay Facebook “millions” to use the information to target people with ads about the bias of Facebook and social media.