Perhaps most disturbing is Mr. Sunstein’s vision for the future of web content, as he argues for a so-called “notice and take down” law. Under this provision, those who operate websites - - The Washington Post, radio stations, private bloggers, and perhaps even you, yourself -we would all be required “take down falsehoods upon notice” from the U.S. government.
And not only would the original content of websites be scrutinized by the government for “falsehoods,” website operators would also be held responsible for the content of “posts” created by the website’s visitors and readers. At first blush it may seem that, for a web operator to be held accountable for content generated by “posters,” is completely untenable. But that may very well be Mr. Sunstein’s goal - - to create an “untenable situation” for website operators - given his assertion that “a ‘chilling effect’ on those who would spread destructive falsehoods can be an excellent idea..”
But who shall determine what, exactly, is “true” and “false?” Mr. Sunstein laments the supposed “lie” that emerged during last year’s presidential race, that “Barack Obama pals around with terrorists.” Despite that fact that a friendship between Obama and known domestic terrorist William Ayers was something that both men acknowledged, Sunstein alludes to the notion that this was one of those “destructive falsehoods” of the sort that needs to be policed.
As I was recently talking about this matter on-air at Arizona’s NewsTalk 92-3 KTAR radio, a caller to the show observed that “there’s no way this could be legal, or constitutional..” Thoughtful Americans of all sorts will immediately view this situation through the lenses of constitutionally guaranteed rights.
But issues of “legality” don’t seem to matter, at times, with the Obama Administration. In March of this year, there was nothing illegal about executives of the AIG Corporation being paid bonuses that they earned from their employer, but they were harassed and publicly belittled, nonetheless. President Obama himself demonized them, while dozens of Obama supporters “demonstrated” in front of the private residences of the executives, alleging that it was “unfair” for those executives to be making “so much money.”
In a similar way, it appears that the Obama Administration may be ushering-in an era of harassment for website operators. Regardless of what U.S. courts may or may not say about this in the future, a “notice and take down” letter from the White House could have quite a “chilling effect” for today.
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.