Federal Communications Commission commissioner Brendan Carr called free speech “fundamental” and necessary for solving America’s problems.
“The problem with censorship is that censors are either sort of biased or fallible but the harm befalls all of us,” he said. “[T]he way we as a country historically solved problems was by having open, robust live debates and we’ve moved away from that, and I don’t think that’s a good thing.”
The FCC commissioner identified that the justifications for censorship often has cultural roots.
“That’s a cultural challenge in this country, to get back to this embrace of diversity of views, because it’s how we solve difficult problems,” he said.
Carr gave COVID-19 as an example:
“We should have a robust, open debate about, for instance, mask efficacy,” Carr said. “Do cloth masks work or don’t they? The origins of COVID, the effectiveness of vaccines in terms of transmitting or not.... These are core public health, public policy issues that, for much of the place that these debates take place, the internet, you weren’t even allowed to have them.”
Carr also offered some potential solutions to bolster free speech and Big Tech accountability.
He argued that tech companies need to be more transparent in their content moderation decisions and users should be able to hold the companies responsible for censorship. Carr also advocated for anti-viewpoint discrimination provisions and user-empowered content moderation.
“Right now, all those content moderation decisions are being made by the people in Silicon Valley, so I think we need user empowerment,” he said. “The speech should be allowed to exist and if someone wants to see it, they can.”
Carr explained how he hoped these reforms might impact speech. “I think that is going to be central for diversity of thought, for dissenting religious views, dissenting political views, dissenting scientific views to be aired, which at the end of the day is going to benefit all of us.”
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