Trump Should Move Against Twitter and Other Internet Civil Rights Violators

by Dr. Alan Keyes  •  •  December 4, 2018   

President should end corporate civil rights violations

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Dr. Alan Keyes

On Friday (Nov. 29), internet journalist Laura Loomer handcuffed herself to the door of an entrance to Twitter's offices in New York to protest Twitter's denial of service to her account. She cited numerous examples to prove that Twitter discriminates against people who do not conform to the deeply one-sided political and social biases characteristic of its corporate leadership and culture. Though they are a private corporation, if they wish to offer services to people in the United States, they are no more free to practice discrimination against people of other persuasions than Marriot, Hilton or Macy's can claim the freedom to discriminate against people of the colored persuasion.

As a natural endowment, my skin color is a matter of natural right. According to the creed that reflects the understanding of rights governments in the United States are supposed to respect, so is my freedom of speech. I, and other citizens and lawful inhabitants of the United States, may presumptively speak and act in respect of obligations and concomitant rights arising from "the laws of nature and of nature's God," provided only that our actions also remain within bounds established by law according to the provisions of the Constitution of the United States.

Twitter, Facebook, Google and other such social networking internet providers offer accommodations to people making use of the internet for a wide variety of communications. Though they ostensibly provide these accommodations for nothing, the services they provide generate opportunities for advertising, as well as the generation of an enormous quantity of information about the people who make use of their facilities. In some ways, they are hoteliers, like Hilton or Marriott.

But on account of the technology involved, the accommodations they provide give them access to all the communications flowing back and forth among their guests. Imagine hotels with listening devices in every room, taps on every phone and a camera covering every inch of floor space in the hotel, so that nothing takes place they do not access and store in some form as their guests go about their business.

Most hotels these days also provide venues for events in which their guests participate. For the internet social networking and communications giants, these events are the main reason for their existence. In this respect, they are like cinema complexes, providing spaces individual and corporate producers can use to display their productions. Like most theaters these days, they offer opportunities for advertisers to promote their wares to the audiences that assemble to see the shows.

Unlike the companies involved in making films or stage shows, however, the social networking giants have slyly induced most of the people who use their services to display their wares without remuneration. The companies providing digital facilities and accommodations to the producing public do not sign contracts with content producers to pay them some percentage of the revenues generated from their shows. People using their services tacitly agree to forego any share of the revenues generated by their activity. They labor as unpaid volunteers in exchange for the emotional satisfaction they derive from it.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey

They tacitly agree to a kind of indentured service. But unlike such servants in the past, they were, at first anyway, permitted to believe that they enjoyed the freedom to determine the nature and content of the activities they labored to carry on. They could assume that the people who provided the venue for their existence did not have authority to dictate their work. They believed themselves free to be themselves; free to form associations in view of interests, occupations, causes, aims and ends they chose for themselves. Those under the jurisdiction of the United States government also assumed that they would enjoy the natural rights and constitutionally established liberties our form of government is supposed to safeguard.

Lately, however, the corporate giants providing digital accommodations to the general public have made emphatic moves to assert despotic authority over people unwittingly lured into bondage by their deceitful offer of "free" internet accommodations. Aside from the foregone opportunity cost of laboring without remuneration, the indentured servants lured into digital bondage are being invidiously evicted on account of the allegedly objectionable hue of their statements, beliefs and opinions.

The United States must make it clear that we mean to enforce respect for the God-endowed liberties people subject to our jurisdiction are supposed to enjoy.

If they wish to offer services to people living under the jurisdiction of the United States, corporations providing internet facilities to the public on the internet must be compelled to cease their civil rights violations. If they refuse, the U.S. government should cut off their ability to access any internet facilities the U.S. government directly or indirectly provides or supports (including any universities, libraries, hospitals and other entities receiving U.S. government funds).

These internet giants have been more than willing to develop techniques aimed at repressing the God-endowed liberties of people living under repressive left- and right-wing socialist regimes. The United States must make it clear that we mean to enforce respect for the God-endowed liberties people subject to our jurisdiction are supposed to enjoy.

In addition to this reaction against corporate civil rights violations, the president of the United States should direct the appropriate departments and agencies of the United States government to take legal action against the individuals who approved and directed the violations. They have openly conspired to violate the constitutionally explicit civil rights of people under U.S. jurisdiction and ought properly to be apprehended, charged and tried for their criminal acts.

However, the information despotism the internet giants seek to oppose is not just a matter of individual civil rights. It is a direct assault on the sovereign capacity of America's body politic. The people of the United States can by no means allow corporate despots to subvert their access to all points of view as they exercise the sovereign decision-making power our Constitution entrusts to them.

As a body, we directly or indirectly wield the sovereign power that appoints the office holders and formulates the laws of the United States. We cannot allow would-be despots of any variety to interfere with our ability to inform one another, no matter what seductive tricks they employ. Private corporate entities that tyrannize over our people as individuals are, in effect, substituting their tyrannical control for the freedom of information and decision we must enjoy as a people if our self-government is to survive.

The president of the United States must act urgently to defend our sovereignty as a people from this threat. Our representatives in Congress should act urgently to demand enforcement of civil rights laws to this end.

This invasion of our right to secure knowledge goes hand in hand with the invasion of our territory. One way or another, we must stop both invasions. Otherwise, the would-be tyrants of the internet and the would-be destroyers of our borders will succeed in applying to us the techniques of repression they developed to appease their paymasters in China. Overmastering our rightful exercise of freedom, they will help to assure its swift demise.

Dr. Alan Keyes served as Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations under President Ronald Reagan, and ran for president in 1996, 2000 and 2008. He holds a Ph.D. in government from Harvard, and writes at his website Loyal to Liberty.


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