A group of ten industry and civil society organizations today filed an amicus brief opposing a new Texas law (HB 20) that will require social media platforms to carry hate speech, disinformation, and other harmful content. The law, signed recently by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, is scheduled to go into effect December 2.
The organizations — including Chamber of Progress, Connected Commerce Council, Consumer Technology Association, Engine, the Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, National Black Justice Coalition, Progressive Policy Institute, TechNet, and Washington Center for Technology Policy Inclusion — expressed their support for a preliminary injunction barring the law’s implementation. The brief supports NetChoice and the Consumer & Communications Industry Association’s challenge to the Texas law.
The brief argues that the new law hurts consumers by preventing online providers from taking down harmful content.
“[I]t cannot be overstated that allowing platforms to be overrun with harmful content will essentially render thunusable for all consumers, but particularly for communities that may be vulnerable or that may be specifically targeted with hate and harassment.”
The organizations also argue that HB 20 will force platforms to expose their policing methods, helping bad actors to evade detection online.
“The requirements to provide detailed information about the methods used to enforce content policies will undermine the efficacy of providers’ enforcement activities. Sophisticated bad actors continually change their playbooks for phishing, malware, scams, spam, coordinated inauthentic activity, and other illegal activities such as trading child sexual abuse material, sex trafficking, terrorist recruiting and fundraising, and selling drugs.”
Finally, the organizations argue that the law creates additional obstructions to stop platforms from using content moderation to create a safe online environment.
“The Act contains several provisions that act as constructive prohibitions on content moderation by imposing undue burdens, making it impossible for providers to engage in the full range of policy setting and enforcement necessary for the proper operation of their services and protection of consumers. These burdens include new requirements for actions that must accompany content moderation activities including individual user notices, appeals, complaint systems, and transparency reporting.”
Chamber of Progress (progresschamber.org) is a new center-left tech industry policy coalition promoting technology’s progressive future. We work to ensure that all Americans benefit from technological leaps, and that the tech industry operates responsibly and fairly.
Our corporate partners do not have a vote on or veto over our positions. We do not speak for individual partner companies and remain true to our stated principles even when our partners disagree.