Washington – New Hampshire is considering legislation that seeks to exert more government control over what people see online. The bill, HB 320, has a hearing in the House Committee on Judiciary Thursday, and the Computer & Communications Industry Association submitted written testimony opposing it for violating federal law.
The bill would require online services to carry all user-generated content, arguing that digital services should act more like internet access providers or “common carriers,” and not make editorial decisions to remove dangerous or otherwise objectionable content. However, according to federal law, online services do not meet the test for being common carriers as they are neither carriers nor “common,” as many don’t provide service to everyone such as children.
In its testimony, CCIA pointed out the various ways the New Hampshire law would violate federal law, including the First Amendment, which protects individuals and businesses from the government compelling them to speak or carry material.
CCIA has advocated for free speech online for nearly 30 years and is currently a co-plaintiff in lawsuits against Texas and Florida content moderation laws that the Supreme Court will consider hearing Friday.
The following can be attributed to CCIA State Policy Director Khara Boender:
“Bills that seek to limit private companies’ control over what they host online would be a danger to internet users and democracy if they were allowed to be enforced. Digital services are constantly battling threats from fraud to extremism to protect their online communities. The issue of what digital services host is also divisive — while some call for stricter measures to regulate what is available online, others push for fewer or no restrictions. The decisions private companies make are indeed their own thanks to First Amendment protections that prohibit government interference.”