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Letter: Attempts to regulate the web will not subvert democracy

Attempts to regulate the web will not subvert democracy

Much is being made of the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election via postings on Facebook, Twitter and Google.

Those platforms are, for better or worse, the way millions of Americans and non-Americans alike express their opinions globally today. Not just individuals, but corporations, political parties, politicians, government agencies and non-governmental entities all use this medium to express opinions, influence individuals and promote commerce. As with every other mass communication medium, the end users have to weigh the credibility and accuracy of what they see and hear. “Fake news” isn’t new.

Many of our politicians today are expressing the need to “fix” this part of the free speech system in the United States to ostensibly prevent nefarious foreign government actors (e.g. the Russians, Chinese, North Koreans, etc.) from influencing our electoral processes. Every citizen needs to resist this “fix.” The last thing we need is for government to decide what speech, opinions, or thoughts we can hear and see.

For over 200 years our Constitution’s protection of free speech rights, as codified in the First Amendment, has served us well. Real and “fake” news promoted by domestic and foreign sources (e.g. political parties, liberal and conservative media outlets, foreign governments, etc.) has always been part of our heritage even as the United States remains the greatest democracy the world has yet known.

Like our Founders, I have much more faith in individual citizens deciding what to believe, as opposed to government deciding what we can hear.

Robert Coffey


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