Censorship vs. Suppression
By eric – January 1, 2019
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Libertarians – me included – have wrestled long and hard with this one: Is it censorship when private entities do it?
No – not in a legal sense. Because these private entities do not have the power to forbidpublication, per se.
But they do have the power to suppress (and even to punish) publication when the entities at issue effectively control the means of publication – and so it amounts to the same thing as censorship.
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There is no Internet Samizdat – nor can there be. There is just the Internet, which is the only known means for the dissemination of information in the digital age.
There is also the fiction that the handful of entities which effectively control it and all the critical peripherals – which includes both “social media” and online advertising and online payment mechanisms- are private and so we can’t – as Libertarians – object to their machinations.
They may be privately owned, but so is Tesla – and it is very Libertarian to object to the rent-seeking and crony-capitalism of Tesla. Because Tesla – and the online entities under discussion – leverage the government for their private gain.
Where, after all, did the Internet come from? Was it the privately-funded creation of Goo-gul? Or did Goo-gul, et al, exploit what the taxpayers had been forced to finance the development of?
At the least, we are due some kind of refund.
What’s happened is even more obnoxious than what Jefferson wrote about being forced to provide money for the distribution of opinions one finds repellent – because it’s not just that. One is also precluded even from using one’s own money – whatever’s left, after all the tiers of government theft – to publish opinion contrary to the opinions one finds repellent.
Lech Walesa, phone home.
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I constantly wonder why a grassroots (libertarian?) movement has not formed behind the idea of using the Internet Giants reliance on “safe harbor” to their detriment. They all rely on the “safe harbor” protection from copyright infringement. But, now, they are exercising “editorial control” and so probably can be held accountable for “infringement”.
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