NRB to Lay Out Internet 'Free Speech' Charter

WASHINGTON: The National Religious Broadcasters organization plans a proposal to new media companies like Facebook, Google and Apple on “how to balance their free enterprise rights with the free speech rights of Internet users.”

The group plans to release a “Free Speech Charter for the Internet” in the coming days, Sept. 12. It cites recent incidents such as the Chick-fil-A protests, wherein NRB feels that certain positions were discriminated against by some Internet media companies.

NRB has been critical of policies of many such companies regarding types of content allowed on their platforms; an NRB official wrote late last year, “These new media giants have declared that they possess both the right and the will to use standard-less, arbitrary power to shut down ideas they simply do not like. Considering how a handful of these giant technology companies rule entire fields of Web-based communications, the threat to freedom of discourse is breathtaking.”

The NRB also acknowledges that the issue is not clear-cut, with conflicting positions between traditional public free speech and the rights of media property owners to police their content. The new program is associated with the NRB’s John Milton Project for Religious Free Speech.

New Media Have a Free Speech Problem (NRB Commentary, Nov. 2011)