Two-thirds of the states have advanced legislation to protect free speech from Internet censorship, but Georgia also has an opportunity to shape public discourse with potential legislation of its own.
With that said, politicians should demonstrate vigilance and only craft legislation that doesn’t trample other people’s rights and liberties.
That was the message Heartland Institute President James Taylor conveyed to members of the Georgia General Assembly’s House Science and Technology Committee Thursday. Committee members held the hearing to discuss internet platforms and Constitutionally-protected speech. The Illinois-based Heartland Institute, according to its website, is a national nonprofit research and education organization that addresses a wide range of public policy issues.
Georgia State Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth), who chairs the committee, said he wants “a vigorous environment where speech can flourish.”
“The issue we are taking up is not tied to any legislation but is a chance to delve into the broader question of First Amendment and free speech protections broadly across our culture,” Setzler said at the hearing.
“Technology platforms are forums for speech.”
Taylor said that without free speech people “would be led like sheep to slaughter.” But in the 21st century, “the public town square exists on the internet.” And a small number of large, multinational corporations have monopoly-like power — especially social media platforms. And it’s through these places that people receive information and exchange ideas.
“The sharing of information with each other is of the highest importance and must be protected,” Taylor told committee members.
“Yet we have a small number of large multinational corporations who have decided to enter the fray, to enter the particular marketplace as it exists in the public town square. They have gained such market share that they exist as a monopoly or a monopoly-like entity as a cartel. They have the power and, increasingly, the inclination to block, censor, or restrict particular points of view or speech based upon their viewpoints. That is something that we as Americans, no matter where we fall on the political spectrum, should be very concerned about.”
Taylor, the Heartland Institute’s website went on to say, is the former managing editor of Environment & Climate News, a national monthly publication devoted to sound science and free-market environmentalism. For many years, Taylor wrote a regular column for Forbes.
Taylor has presented energy and environmental analysis on CNN, FOX News, and PBS, among other outlets.
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