Last month, the Internet Association, a trade association whose membership includes companies like Facebook and Google, announced they had reversed their decision on supporting a bill by Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, entitled the Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act (SESTA). The bill, supported heavily on both sides of the aisle, amends Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to give law enforcement greater latitude to crack down on sites that have been used for sex trafficking like Backpage.com.
For months, Silicon Valley had been pushing back vehemently against this effort saying that it would set a dangerous precedent and open the floodgates to censorship. Headlines like SESTA “Could Ruin the Internet“ and would “curtail internet freedom“ appeared all over the Web. But now Silicon Valley supports the measure. It seems their flair for the dramatic was just that: a big show. Let’s remember this as other debates on Silicon Valleys’ power move forward, let’s remember how Silicon Valley cries wolf when it’s being held accountable.
While it’s no doubt a welcome change that internet giants are now supporting an important measure that will combat sex trafficking — a horrid problem preying on women and young girls with around 3,500cases in the U.S. yearly — their initial opposition shows how out of touch Silicon Valley is with the rest of the country. Two changes were made to the bill that will amend “knowing conduct” measures, which were a liability concern of many tech companies, and another that will let attorneys general prosecute sex traffickers under federal law.
But this begs the question, if companies like Facebook and Google were truly worried about anything other than protecting their own interests, why didn’t they come to the negotiating table earlier instead of causing a scene?
The irony of this entire situation is actually quite rich as well.
Silicon Valley voiced concerns about these laws being able to censor speech online and how it would set a dangerous precedent. But that’s something Google, Facebook, and Twitter have been doing for years now, and they’ve been targeting one group — conservatives.
From Twitter preventing Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., from promoting a video because of her “inflammatory” anti-abortion views to Google’s YouTube censoring Prager U videos criticizing the left, Silicon Valley’s power grab over speech has been long in the making.
Censorship isn’t something that’s talked about for the right, it’s something that’s experienced almost on a daily basis by those who don’t agree with the leftist agenda of the tech-left.
Now more than ever, we should remember this as yet another example of Silicon Valley crying wolf. The left in Silicon Valley did it again when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted on Dec. 14, to move forward with rolling back invasive Net Neutrality rules, which were implemented as a power-grab by the Obama administration.
Silicon Vallety will do so again as Americans continue recognizing that their power is out of control. Their cries over SESTA have further revealed a truth conservatives have long known, that companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter cannot be trusted to set their own rules. It’s time to put their power in check. It’s time to free our Internet.
Read more at Silicon Valley Can’t Be Trusted to Police Web, Itself.