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I recently engaged in conversation with two local neighbors, a long-standing local business owner and a former elected official who offered their opinions on my support for a ‘return’ to investments in transforming our city’s core into a walkable, bike-able, densely populated urban center.
Scotts on the Rocks Politica Podcast
No. XVII. Feb. 18, 2021
Big Tech Private Censorship – While The Government Does Nothing
In late 2019, the Committee on the Judiciary (U.S. House of Representatives – Jerry Nadler, Chairman; D-NY) initiated a bipartisan investigation into the state of internet/online competition. It broke down into a Subcommittee on Antitrust.
Specifically, the Subcommittee examined the dominance of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, and their business practices to determine how their power affects our economy and our democracy.
In October of 2020, the House released the 500-page Report of the Subcommittee’s findings. Everyone should read it. It’s scary (warning – there are 2,541 footnotes).
When we hear the word “totalitarian,” we have understood it in connection with a despotic, authoritarian (and para-military) government. That kind of stuff happens in other places, and long ago – it could never happen here.
But, we are not talking about the government here (or, a topic for another day, not just the government). We are talking about private totalitarianism and the freedom of speech.
When we look at things like that Congressional Report, and then at what is happening in America with what Big Tech is doing to our freedom of speech, isn’t it clear to everyone that Big Tech has too much control over what we can see, hear and read? Don’t they have too much control over what we can say?
The government does nothing. Is it because government wants to do nothing? Are they in on it?
At the end of the Subcommittee Report, the Subcommittee gives some “suggestions” as to how the government (Congress) might fix things. But, as usual, it’s all pie in the sky stuff.
The suggestions are just lip service to create an illusion of caring about leveling the playing field for other corporate titans, and to create more bureaucracy, and to mangle and complicate the already-unwieldy Antitrust laws.
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All the so-called suggested recommendations are fake remedies that will never pass constitutional muster when Big Tech challenges them in Court.
Just like with everything else the government does these days, if anything, it was all for show – to give the illusion to the masses that they are actually working for us.
There is no recommendation that reaches the grass roots level – where We the People live and breathe – way down here on the ground. Hello, Earth calling Congress – is anyone home in the House? Why not start from the foundation, and move up – instead of always the other way around (catering to the elites on high, and letting things trickle down to the masses – if ever)?
Because our Government is too big now, and We the People are too small.
There is nothing coming out of that investigation and Report that recommends giving the People themselves some rights to fight back – ground floor, grass roots stuff.
Nothing came out of that Report that recommends some legislation that will give the People a private right of action. Nothing to suggest legislation that will give We the People our own power to go after the Big Tech Oligarchs head on in our own local courthouses.
Let’s bring Big Tech down to our level, why don’t we?
How would Twitter and Facebook like to fight us in Gardner District Court or Worcester Superior Court when they ban us for life for using “mask” in an “incorrect” sentence? Are they above our local courts? I guess to Congress, they are.
Why does the Government leave We the People naked and alone like this?
The control of information, and the control of words, means control of thought and control of ideas. That can only lead to a disastrous situation – where We the People have to watch every word we say – and many of us will not be able to say anything at all.
The worst part is the control of information. If all of our searches are scrubbed through Big Tech’s algorithms – and directed only to the information they want us to have (and away from the information they don’t want us to have), our thoughts will never have any freedom to formulate or to grow.
There will be no free thoughts. There will be only the thoughts pre-approved by Big Tech (and, likely, the government).
Why? Because Big Tech says so. Where’s the government?
So, let’s face it. The Big Tech Oligopoly is not only telling us what we can say, it’s telling us what we can know. That means that the Big Tech Oligopoly is telling us what we can think. That’s scary.
Where’s the government?
We will hear the apologists saying, “you can’t sue Facebook because they are a private entity.”
It is true that the Constitution does not impose liability on private actors (except in those rare circumstance where a private actor is deemed to be a “state actor.”
But, there is a different angle to take, way down here on the ground.
I keep saying I’m going to get into it, and I will. It’s where a private actor acts like a government is some aspect of life. The case is Marsh v. Alabama – where the Court found that the Constitution’s freedoms can be protected against the actions of a private actor in the situation where the “company” owned “the town.”
In my view, Big Tech has created a “company country” when it comes to information and free speech. That’s the angle. I think there is room there for the little guy to fight back against the Big Tech Censor. It’s not Congress we need to help us, it’s the Supreme Court. I’ll expound on this in a future article.
Scotts on the Rocks Politica is a political-centric broadcast that aims to lead through example.
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