How The U.S. Government May Be Interfering With Freedom of Speech

US Justice Department
A flag flies from the Department of Justice in Washington, U.S., March 24, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo)

The U.S. government has decided to crack down on "Big Tech" companies such as Facebook, Apple, Google, and Amazon. However, some experts indicated that freedom of expression and human rights may be sacrificed in the process.

In an interview with Aljazeera, United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, David Kaye, pointed out that U.S. President Donald Trump's administration may be getting in the way of planting a different impression about the media on American citizens.

Kaye said he thinks Trump may be throwing tirades against the media regularly for "strategic purposes to sow doubt in the people's opinion about media and in the truthfulness of traditional reporting." He added that this strategy may be "deeply problematic."

While Kaye thinks that the U.S. government may be interfering a little bit too much with other people's rights to freedom of speech, he also argued that Facebook "really did not do anything" regarding the Rohingya violence issue that spread throughout the platform.

Kaye went on to explain that social media platforms like Facebook "are not transparent" about the rules they implement on spreading hate speech and posts that encourage violence.

The idea of potentially breaking up U.S. tech companies has been raised over the past few days, ever since the Justice Department announced that it will look into the probability of big tech firms monopolizing competition and violating anti-trust policies.

While Kaye is all for implementing laws to ensure that social media platforms will remain safe for human rights, he noted the need for discussions about the potential impact of breaking up Facebook and other tech companies in global settings.

Discussing the global consequences of big tech breakups is necessary since many Facebook users are outside the United States. Billions of social media users around the world use the platform because they believe they can exercise their rights to freedom.

While breaking up big tech firms have been the common ground for many U.S. experts, the European Commission's moves over the last few years can teach a lesson to the American government regarding keeping tech companies from violating competition and other rules.

Europe has been fining Google in millions for alleged competition violations. Some industry analysts believe the U.S. government should make this move too since dismantling the firms could have a serious impact among global Internet users.

Facebook, on the other hand, has been receiving increased scrutiny from European anti-trust watchdogs. Most of the issues revolved around user privacy. It remains to be seen if the social media giant will be fined next.

Fines could be one of the early strategies to crack down on U.S. big tech business practices without having to disrupt the masses' confidence in freedom of speech and expression.

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