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What Is the Future of Social Media Regulation? – The Regulatory Review

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Justice Thomas signals the potential for regulation of social media platforms and their power over speech.

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In early April, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in the case of Biden v. Knight First Amendment Institute. The ruling was largely insignificant, as the Court held that the case was moot. The concurrence issued by Justice Clarence Thomas, however, sent both the legal world and many parts of the internet abuzz. In his opinion, Justice Thomas issued the first words from the Supreme Court concerning the current debate around the power of social media platforms, writing:

Today’s digital platforms provide avenues for historically unprecedented amounts of speech, including speech by government actors. Also unprecedented, however, is the concentrated control of so much speech in the hands of a few private parties. We will soon have no choice but to address how our legal doctrines apply to highly concentrated, privately owned information infrastructure such as digital platforms.

Although most Americans agree that social media companies have too much political power, consensus on the appropriate government response has been far more elusive. Some states have already begun to take some degree of action against perceived biases in online platforms. In Texas, for example, a proposed law would treat social media companies like common carriers and prohibit “deplatforming” based on viewpoint. Also, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has proposed a law that would protect political candidates from being banned on social media.

Justice Thomas’s concurrence appears to favor a position similar to the proposed Texas law. In his opinion, he cited the 1994 case Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. v. Federal Communications Commission, in which the Court required cable operators to carry broadcast signals. Discussing Turner, Justice Thomas questioned why—if telephone companies are required to act as common carriers—digital platforms could not be treated in a similar fashion.

In addition, even accepting the private property arguments made by opponents of social media regulation, some form of regulation would not be unprecedented. In his opinion, Justice Thomas cited PruneYard Shopping Center v. Robins, in which the Court concluded that a state could require a shopping mall to allow protesters to engage in advocacy on private mall property. Similarly, the Court or a legislature could find that citizens have a constitutional right to voice their opinions on social media platforms, despite the private nature of these platforms.

If states begin to pass legislation requiring social media platforms to host any speaker under the reasoning of PruneYard, they could set up a legal battle with the platforms that have used Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act as a justification for free reign in curating the users of their services. In analyzing Justice Thomas’s opinion, law professor Eugene Volokh of the University of California, Los Angeles wrote that the justice “is anticipating what might be done through legislation, and whether new state laws that do treat platforms as common carriers (more or less) are going to be seen as blocked by the First Amendment or Section 230.” Volokh predicts “that is an issue the Court will likely have to deal with in coming years.” Unless something changes dramatically in how social media companies operate or in the state of political discourse, it seems almost inevitable that this debate will come to a head in the courts.

Much of the current debate echoes similar discussions throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s about the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) fairness doctrine. The fairness doctrine required broadcasters that devoted a portion of their airtime to discussing controversial matters of public interest to also air contrasting views on those matters. The fairness doctrine was at the center of the case Red Lion Broadcasting Co., Inc. v. Federal Communications Commission. It was upheld by the Supreme Court but the FCC abandoned the doctrine in 1987. Some commentators have noted that Justice Thomas’s opinion sounds like a call for a revival of some form of the fairness doctrine.

As a concurrence, Justice Thomas’s opinion does not set any precedent. But it signals that at least one justice is concerned with the current state of the First Amendment. After decades in which online platforms have relied on the protections afforded them by Section 230, is some form of platform regulation possible?

It seems unlikely that a majority of the Court will decide in the foreseeable future to curtail the independence of social media platforms. Law professor Steve Vladeck of the University of Texas at Austin noted that the bigger story behind Justice Thomas’s opinion is that no other member of the Court chose to join him.

For now, the Court is not likely to move one way or another on social media regulation. If, however, some of the proposed state legislation on the matter becomes law, the Court may not have any choice but to address the issue.

Eric Cervone

Eric Cervone is a lawyer who writes about issues relating to free speech.

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Hollywood Enlists Asian Media in US-Led $71 Billion Piracy Fight – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — Hollywood studios battling online piracy have enlisted the first Asian members of an industry coalition set up to seek out and shut down illegal streaming sites.

The Hong Kong-based streaming service Viu and True Visions, a leading Thai pay-TV provider, will be the first Asian companies to join the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment, whose members include Netflix Inc., Walt Disney Co. and other major media companies.

The alliance is part of the US Motion Picture Association and has 39 members, with plans to enlist other players in Latin America and elsewhere. Dues from the media organizations are used to finance legal fights against the theft of content.

Piracy has been on the rise during the pandemic, costing US entertainment companies an estimated $29 billion to $71 billion in lost revenue annually, according to executives at the organization. And media companies typically notice, and act on, copyright and intellectual property theft before police.

“We now have local partners fighting this local fight, who can connect to local law enforcement,” Charles Rivkin, chairman of the alliance and the Motion Picture Association, said in an interview. “It’s a whole lot more effective when you have a local player come in with the MPA than the MPA just parachuting in on our own and trying to make headway.”

Expanding Ranks

While the organization is mostly made of US companies, including all of the major Hollywood studios and streaming services that form the MPA trade group, it also has international partners. BBC Worldwide and Vivendi SE’s Canal+ are two of its biggest European members. Rivkin said he has long sought to expand the group’s footprint in Asia-Pacific, where some of the largest illegal streaming sites are run.

Viu is one of the biggest streaming platforms in Asia, with 58.6 million monthly active users, according to the company. True Visions is a cable and satellite TV operator based in Thailand, and last month helped the alliance and local police arrest an alleged content pirate and shut down his website.

“We recognize the need to address the piracy that is widespread in our markets,” Marianne Lee, chief of content acquisition and development at Viu, said in a statement. “We are committed to ensuring consumers move from illegal piracy sites to legal options.”

While Hollywood has battled film and TV piracy for years, it became particularly problematic after major studios made their content more readily accessible online during pandemic lockdowns. John Fithian, the head of the National Association of Theatre Owners, said in April piracy was so widespread in 2021 that studios scrapped plans to debut their big, new films online rather than in theaters.

The alliance says it’s also looking to partner with major sports leagues across the world, since they are also the target of digital content thieves. In April, ACE added beIN Media Group, one of the biggest international sports broadcasters, to its ranks.

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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Boston media explodes after Red Sox blow it without unvaccinated closer Houck – Sportsnet.ca

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Editor’s Note: The COVID-19 situation, in sports and around the world, is constantly evolving. Readers in Canada can consult the country’s public health website for the latest.

The Boston media is known for being tough on their teams at all times.

It reaches another level, though, when something like Tuesday night happens.

Because Boston Red Sox closer Tanner Houck is unvaccinated, he had to be placed on the restricted list prior to this week’s series in Toronto against the Blue Jays.

And wouldn’t you know it, his absence loomed large on Tuesday when the Blue Jays scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth for a 6-5 win over the Red Sox.

Longtime Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy and other members of the Boston media were quick to post their feelings on Twitter.

Without Houck, the Red Sox asked Tyler Danish, who pitched the eighth, to go back out for the ninth.

But Danish, who has zero career saves, let the first two runners on. That prompted Red Sox manager Alex Cora to replace him with Hansel Robles.

Robles wasn’t any more successful, giving up RBI singles to Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to end it.

When asked if the situation made him more frustrated about the vaccination situation, Cora said no.

“We go with the 26 that are here, and we try to get 27 outs and we didn’t do it,” Cora said.

The Blue Jays have now won five of six against the Red Sox in Toronto this season heading into Wednesday’s series finale when Toronto will start ace Alek Manoah.

And, maybe just maybe, the same two teams will play in the same venue in October.

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Media Release – June 29, 2022 – Guelph Police – Guelph Police Service

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Fake gun call doesn’t work

A male who reported a bogus firearms incident in an attempt to avoid being arrested instead faces additional charges.

Approximately 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Guelph Police Service officers located a stolen motorcycle in a downtown parking lot. Investigation led them to an apartment unit where they believed the responsible male was hiding.

While officers were on scene, a 911 call was received by the communications centre reporting a male with a firearm at a business on Eramosa Road. Several officers responded and determined the report was fake and intended to draw officers away from the downtown apartment.

After extensive negotiations, a male was arrested just before 9:30 p.m. A 38-year-old Guelph male is charged with possessing stolen property over $5,000, public mischief and failing to comply with a release order. He was held for a bail hearing Wednesday.

Male charged with impaired, mischief

A Guelph male was charged with mischief after smearing feces on a surveillance camera at the Guelph Police station following his arrest for impaired driving.

Just after 6 p.m Tuesday, the Guelph Police Service received reports of an erratic driver in the area of Woodlawn Road West and Imperial Road North. A short time later the running vehicle was located at the owner’s residence with the male still sitting inside. Officers detected an odour of alcoholic beverage on his breath and observed an empty beer can inside the vehicle. Testing at the police station confirmed the male had more than the legal amount of alcohol in his system.

While the male was being held awaiting his release, he began to cover a cellblock camera with a pillow. After the pillow was taken away he used his hand to smear feces on the camera lens.

A 47-year-old Guelph male is charged with impaired operation and mischief. His driver’s licence was suspended for 90 days and his vehicle was impounded for seven days. He will appear in a Guelph court July 12, 2022.

Male arrested for break and enter

A Guelph male has been arrested nearly two months after a north-end garage was entered.

On May 8, a resident in the area of Victoria Road North and Ingram Drive reported a break-in to his garage. Video surveillance showed a vehicle stopping in front of the house approximately 3:20 a.m. A male entered the garage and stole tools and other items.

A suspect was identified from the video and arrested Tuesday.

A 32-year-old Guelph male is charged with break and enter, prowl at night and breach of probation. He will appear in a Guelph bail court July 5, 2022.

Total calls for service in the last 24 hours – 240

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