On Sunday,Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar joined the growing call for new regulation of Internet speech, including the imposition of fines on sites that fail to remove posters and comments of suspected “bots.” While the true impact of the Russian trolls and bots is being hotly debated (and I admit that I am skeptical), Democrats are calling for measures that worry many of us in the free speech community.
Klobuchar said it would be “a great idea” to pass legislation that allowed for the fining of companies like Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. should be fined if they don’t remove automated accounts, or bots.
The “great idea” of fining sites and companies is an invitation for Internet regulation — something ironically that Vladimir Putin and other authoritarian figures have been pushing for years. The fear is that, once the government starts to fine sites for failing to remove suspected automated or bot poster, it can start to target suspected paid trolls or, as in Europe, anyone viewed offensive or intolerant.
Klobuchar however said that this may not happen because “You need a Congress to act, and there are too many people that are afraid of doing something about this because we know these sites are popular.” So is free speech.