In the recent wave of internet regulations emerging from California, one stands out as particularly contentious: AB 587, labeled the “transparency” bill. While the overarching concept of transparency has been applauded by some, the real-world implications of this particular legislation have raised alarms across the digital space as, in this instance, it’s being used as a form of censorship.
Elon Musk and X, with his notable influence and resources, has stepped into the spotlight to challenge this law’s validity and is welcomed since a similar lawsuit against the bill failed in recent weeks.
We obtained a copy of the lawsuit for you here.
AB 587 exemplifies the complications of politicians trying to curb online “misinformation,” and how they rub up against the First Amendment.
When Minds, Tim Pool, and the Babylon Bee took the charge with a lawsuit filed earlier this year, the lawsuit eventually fizzled out as the judge couldn’t find how the law would affect the plaintiffs. The court cited an inadequate presentation of the potential harm this law could inflict.
While some argued that the law did affect the plaintiffs, it’s very clear that it does at least affect large social media platforms – meaning that the door was open for another entity to come along and challenge the law.
Taking up the mantle, Musk’s X has now mounted a robust legal challenge against the law. Bolstering their claim, they’ve enlisted Floyd Abrams, a renowned First Amendment lawyer, to represent them, and have gone with a strong compelled speech argument.
According to the lawsuit, filed by X, AB 587, promoted by the State of California as a “transparency” measure for social media companies, is argued to infringe on constitutional free speech rights. The complaint claims it forces companies like X into involuntary speech and meddles in their editorial decisions. The argument points out that while the law mandates companies to disclose their content moderation policies, its real intention is to coerce these platforms into eradicating content the state finds problematic. This perspective is supported by legislative documents and statements from the law’s creators, emphasizing the objective to combat “divisive content” and promote “better corporate citizens.” Essentially, critics believe the primary aim of AB 587 is to pressure platforms into eliminating government-disapproved content.
Read background information on California’s AB 587 here.
Read the analysis of the failure of the first legal challenge here.
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