Letter: Kudos to Gov. Cox for vetoing the Electronic Free Speech Amendments bill

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Gov. Spencer Cox at a news conference in Salt Lake City on Thursday, April 22, 2021.

I want to publicly applaud Gov. Spencer Cox for doing the right thing and protecting Utah’s local businesses by vetoing the unconstitutional and dangerous SB228, Electronic Free Speech Amendments. This legislation would have done little to address concerns over online misinformation and censorship and would have made it harder for small businesses to do business in Utah.

While advocates of S 228 claim that it promotes more free speech, the passage of this legislation would have done the opposite and reduced speech by compelling social media platforms to be more aggressive in enforcing content moderation systems to avoid any possible liability. The burdensome content moderation requirements would have only raised the cost to run a social media platform and would create even higher barriers of entry to the market. While big corporations like Twitter, Facebook or Google could easily assume the excess costs and burdens caused by increased regulation, this would create obstacles for smaller businesses and startups who would like to compete against these established platforms.

The truth is that giving the government the enforcement power to review and moderate private companies’ speech rights violates the very protections provided under the First Amendment. I appreciate Gov. Cox for taking a stance to protect our given right to free speech and expression. I urge him to continue to stand strong against any future legislation that threatens our First Amendment rights.

Jana Conrad, Holladay

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