ATA strives to make Austin a welcoming ecosystem for tech while protecting Austin’s unique culture and forging productive relationships between the tech community and policymakers. Our policy and advocacy focus supports using technology as a tool to help address civic challenges and promoting tech-forward policies.
Governor Greg Abbott has released his priorities for a special session to debate and pass content moderation legislation similar to Senate Bill 12, which ATA opposed.
SB 12 died at the last minute during the recent legislative session, but similar legislation will get a second look in the upcoming special session. As proposed, this legislation would “safeguard the freedom of speech by protecting social media users from being censored by social media companies based on the user’s expressed viewpoints, including by providing a legal remedy for those wrongfully excluded from a platform.”
To uphold our constitution and protect the integrity of the First Amendment, not only for the user but also for private entities, it is important that this bill does not pass. These social media companies are also protected by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. This gives them the right to moderate content on their platforms that is deemed obscene, lewd, excessively violent, or otherwise objectionable.
This new legislation would force these companies to keep up content that goes against their own Terms of Services or user policies, leaving the opportunity for dangerous scenarios such as limiting the ability to remove harmful or extremist posts.
We believe that private companies have the right—or even a responsibility—to control and moderate what is posted on their platforms. We also maintain that dictating how tech companies operate opens them up to the potential for lawsuits is not good for business.
We’ve prioritized additional bills that the ATA community supports that will ensure Austin’s continued status as a national leader in technology and innovation.