Justices Mull Social Media Review, US-EU Trade Summit, The Communicators Going Off Air

Supreme Court Justices call for social media review, aftermath of EU-US trade summit, popular TV program on American tech cancelled.

Justices Mull Social Media Review, US-EU Trade Summit, The Communicators Going Off Air
Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch

July 6, 2021 – Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch said Friday the Supreme Court should revisit the New York Times v. Sullivan decision and explore how it applies to social media and technology companies with respect to the First Amendment.

“Since 1964,” Gorsuch wrote Friday, “our Nation’s media landscape has shifted in ways few could have foreseen.”

The 1964 ruling determined the rights given to the press and the public in their right to criticize public officials even in times of crisis. The Court held that the First Amendment protects media that use controversial words about a public official to foster vigorous debate about government and public affairs as long as they are not acting with “actual malice.”

In 2019, Thomas urged the court to take another look at New York Times v. Sullivan, calling it a policy-driven decision “masquerading as constitutional law.”

Thomas has also been a strong supporter of social media regulation and said the companies have come to have “unbridled control” and that Congress should update the rules.

Gorsuch wrote in his dissenting opinion in the case that “thanks to the revolutions in technology, today virtually anyone in this county can publish virtually anything for immediate consumption virtually anywhere in the world.”

Critics unsure of EU-US trade summit accomplishments

Last month’s US-EU summit marked the renewal of a transatlantic partnership dedicated to address issues of competition, connectivity, and new technologies and protecting the idea of a globally-connected internet.

But debates have emerged since as to whether it amounted to a policy success of failure. Both the EU and the US have been working on several tech policy initiatives, including digital regulation, antitrust, limiting foreign investment, and addressing cyber threats.

Before the summit, the German Marshall Fund hosted an event on what to expect. “We need to zoom into priorities to where can do work together,” said Thibaut Kleiner, director for policy strategy and international affairs for the European Commission.

“We ought to view it as the beginning of the process, not the solution,” said Tom Wheeler, former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”

One of the biggest accomplishments at the summit included the EU-US Trade and Technology Council. The council is expected to serve the purpose of working on issues including emerging technologies, cybersecurity, and global tech standards.

However, critics have pointed out that past bilateral economic and strategic dialogues have lacked substance and have a history of putting off confronting difficult issues.

C-SPAN’s The Communicators will be discontinued

The last episode of The Communicators program will air on July 31.

C-SPAN’s popular program has been holding weekly discussions since 2005 with legislators, business leaders, and experts from the technology sector. Within their 13 seasons, they have featured interviews with FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn, renowned technology journalist Walt Mossberg, and Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee.

C-SPAN’s Robin Newton explained: “We recognize that programs and series run their life cycle and staffing changes and new priorities are taking us in a different direction.”

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