Tech groups ask Judge Alito to uphold Texas social media law

Arms industry: NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association represent a wide range of technology companies, including Facebook, Twitter and Google. Chris Marchese, an attorney at NetChoice, said in a statement that the Texas law violates the First Amendment because it prohibits private companies from “making constitutionally protected editorial decisions and requires them to publish and promote objectionable content.”

Choice, choice: Under the law, HB 20, social media companies must publish reports every six months explaining how many posts they have deleted, deprioritized, demonetized or suspended, and why. It also requires social media platforms to “provide an easily accessible complaints system”. It also allows the state of Texas and individuals to sue companies that violate the law by “censoring” users. Individuals will be able to seek damages of up to $25,000 for each day their messages are “illegally obstructed.”

Whose speech: Matthew Schruers, chairman of the CCIA, in a statement, called Wednesday’s appeals court ruling “highly unorthodox.” In a series of tweets on On Thursday, the CCIA said the government “cannot force private companies like newspapers or online platforms to publish speeches, any more than it can force you or me to speak against our will.”

The Texas attorney general’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Marchese said the law would require social media companies to spread “foreign propaganda, pornography, pro-Nazi speech and spam.”

And after: Alito has the option of unilaterally issuing an emergency stay or referring the case to the full court. The trial remains pending before the Court of Appeal, which has not yet ruled on the merits of the case.

The question before Alito is whether the Texas law will remain in effect until this appeal is decided or whether the December injunction against the law will be allowed until the 5th Circuit issues a decision.

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