Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) held Google’s feet to the fire on its murky legal status earlier today, using information from Breitbart News’ exclusive publication of “The Good Censor,” a leaked internal briefing from Google, to support his line of questioning.
Sen. Cruz sent a copy of The Good Censor, which Breitbart News exclusively published last October, to Google ahead of the hearing, where a representative of the tech giant admitted his company had produced the document.
The Senator highlighted “tech firms are performing a balancing act between two incompatible positions. On the one side, create an ‘unmediated market of ideas – 100% commit to the American tradition that prioritizes free speech for democracy, not civility, by creating spaces where all values including civility norms are always open to debate.’ That’s on the one side, according to Google’s own assessment.”
“On the other side is ‘create well-ordered spaces for safety and civility – 100% commit to the European tradition, which favors dignity over liberty and civility over freedom, by censoring – and I will note, this is Google’s word, censoring – racial and religious hatred even when there’s no provocation to violence.”
“Now, Google’s document lays this out as a balancing act between two incompatible positions, but yet, two places later in the document on page 67, Google concludes … ‘tech firms have gradually shifted away from unmediated free speech and towards censorship and moderation.'”
Cruz, who has repeatedly criticized tech companies for claiming the legal privileges of neutral platforms while behaving like politically partisan publishers, drew attention to parts of the document that reference Section 230, the law that grants neutral platforms legal immunity for lawsuits regarding user-generated content — a lucrative protection that non-neutral publishers do not enjoy.
“[The document] describes how under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, tech firms have legal immunity for the majority of content posted on their platforms. This protection has empowered YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit to create spaces for free speech without fear of legal action.”
“So Google itself understood, on the face of this document, that Section 230, that immunity, is predicated on — as the title of this page says — neutrality” concluded Sen. Cruz.
Google’s representative admitted that his company produced the document, but downplayed it as “thought experiment.”
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Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News.