Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts said Tuesday that Europe was “way ahead” of the U.S. in terms of regulating the internet at a panel on disinformation at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.
“Well, look, I think in general, the U.S. has a lot to learn in terms of data regulations, internet regulation and … you’re way ahead of us in that regard,” Moulton said, responding to a question from former CNN host Brian Stelter about whether the U.S. could learn anything from the E.U. on regulating the internet. “But we believe very strongly in free speech, I believe very strongly in free speech, and I think there is a healthy concern in the United States that the E.U. might be going a little too far.”
Moulton continued, saying that if you look at it from “both perspectives, yes they’re ahead of us and they’re doing some smart things.” He concluded that while American lawmakers were not ready to give up the “principles of free speech,” he felt “safer” using the internet in Europe where “I get all the warnings about cookies and whatnot,” and that many Americans wanted similar internet security and data privacy.
“But haven’t we seen many Democrats in the past six years pressuring Facebook and Twitter and now TikTok to be stronger in content moderation?” Stelter followed-up. Recently released internal communications between Facebook, Twitter and the federal government have shown an extensive relationship between social media and the U.S. government in censoring content, in some cases stretching back into the Trump administration.
In April 2021, White House Director of Digital Strategy Rob Flaherty pressured Facebook to remove a clip of Tucker Carlson that was critical of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, according to emails released as part of an ongoing lawsuit between the attorneys general of Missouri and Kentucky and President Biden. Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California made several requests that Twitter censor posts by users, which included humorously edited content of the president, according to documents published by journalist Matt Taibbi.
“Well I think this is the question … ultimately what we’re trying to achieve there is some measure of public safety,” Moulton responded. “The difference is when I have a constituency that I’m trying to keep healthy, and I can’t get them to take a COVID vaccine because of misinformation that’s propagated on the internet.”
Moulton’s comments came shortly after fellow panelist Vera Jourová, vice-president for values and transparency at the European Commission, stressed the need to ensure disinformation regulations were not abused.
Vera argued that “the content which is illegal offline has to be treated as illegal online.” This includes “violent extremism, hate speech [and] child pornography,” but “disinformation” often did not include any of those things.
She went on to note that the “90%” of requests to remove content from Facebook come from governments, often when elected politicians flag “uncomfortable” information as misinformation.
All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact [email protected].
Republished with permission from Daily Caller News Foundation