A controversial Texas law that will open social media companies to sue affected victims has just won a surprise victory. A trio of federal appeals judges issued the ruling Wednesday, pausing an interim injunction that blocked the law from coming into force last year.

The law HB 20will prohibit technology platforms from removing or restricting content on the basis of “consumer or other person’s point of view” or “consumer’s point of view” – some extremely broad criteria with a lot of room for interpretation.

Two technology industry groups, NetChoice and the Association of the Computer and Communications Industry, were pursuing a ban against the law last year, which was issued in December. During a hearing for HB 20 on Mondayone of the judges inexplicably told the trade groups that their customers in the technology industry were “internet providers” and not websites.

“Promoting lawsuits against companies exercising their rights under the First Amendment would violate the Constitution and put Texans at greater risk online,” the CCIA said during an oral argument Monday. CCIA President Matt Schrews condemned Wednesday’s decision to violate the First Amendment.

“Digital services have a right and a commitment to their communities to take action against the problematic content of their platforms,” ​​Schroers said. “This is true whether the content is racism and abuse or anti-American extremism or foreign propaganda.

Proponents of a law in Texas designed to punish technology companies for alleged anti-conservative bias may have won Wednesday, but things are certainly not settled for HB 20, given its potentially huge impact on social media platforms operating in the state. NetChoice has already stated its intention to appeal the order.

“HB 20 is an attack on the First Amendment and is constitutionally rotten from top to bottom,” NetChoice’s said the adviser in a tweet. “So, of course, we will appeal today’s unprecedented, inexplicable and unfortunate order through a 2-1 split.”

A federal judge blocked a similar law by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis last year. In the ruling, Federal Judge Robert Hinckle noted that the law “explicitly” violates Section 230, which allows Internet platforms to moderate content as they see fit. The judge also noted that, ironically, the law could violate the social rights of social media companies under the First Amendment, even while ostensibly imposing a freedom of speech program.


A law inviting Texans to sue social media companies over ‘censorship’ is back

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