Tech industry files emergency application to block controversial Texas social media law

Trade industry groups representing tech giants such as Google and Facebook have filed emergency applications to the Supreme Court to block HB 20. It’s a controversial Texas law that prohibits social media sites based on “users or others.” It also allows users to sue large platforms with more than 50 million monthly active users if they believe they are being sued for political views Washington post It reportedly mirrors Republicans’ claims that they are being scrutinized by “Big Tech.”

A federal judge blocked the implementation of HB 20 last year, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit overthrow the most recent decision. The panel of judges agreed with Texas that social networks are “modern public squares,” meaning they are barred from censoring certain views. One of the judges also said that the social network is not a website, but an “internet provider”. The panel allowed the law to take effect while its case remains litigated in lower courts.

NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), groups representing the tech industry, maintain that the law is an attack on the First Amendment and have previously questioned its constitutionality. In their emergency application, they said HB 20 was an “unprecedented attack on the editorial discretion of private websites… which would fundamentally change their business model and services.”

They explain that under the law, platforms have no choice but to allow the spread of “all kinds of objectionable views”, such as Russian propaganda justifying the invasion of Ukraine, posts supporting neo-Nazis, the KKK and Holocaust deniers, and encouraging Posts of risky behaviors, such as eating disorders. “The Fifth Circuit has yet to provide any explanation why the district court’s outright opinion is wrong,” they said in their statement. application (PDF).

NetChoice and CCIA also argued that by allowing the law to be enforced, it could influence and interfere with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision.An Atlanta-based appeals court will decide the fate of a similar Florida law that was initially blocked for violating a federal judge Article 230 Communications Decency Act.

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