The suit was filed last June by the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), a Washington-based technology group funded by Facebook, Google and Twitter.
The lawsuit marks the first major legal test of President Trump’s directives, who issued an executive order in May against social platforms in an attempt to regulate them, just days after Twitter took a rare step to verify one of his tweets regarding the mail vote.
Trump has threatened to repeal or weaken a law known as Section 230, which protects internet companies from litigation over user-posted content.
The lawsuit filed by the Center for Democracy and Technology stated that Trump’s executive order violates the First Amendment rights for social media companies, and leads to reducing Americans’ ability to speak freely over the Internet.
The Trump administration notes that the executive order directs government agencies to act, not private companies.
The lawsuit reflects long-standing tensions between the Trump administration and the social platforms, which have become key tools in Trump’s political arsenal.
The Center for Democracy and Technology Counselor Avery Gardiner described Trump’s executive order as unconstitutional. Twitter said the executive order is “a reactionary approach and violates a historic law.”
The lawsuit states that the White House violated the First Amendment, which prohibits government officials from retaliating against an individual or entity for engaging in protected speech.
“The administration has moved to reject the case because it is not a valid legal argument, and it appears that the left-wing lobbying organization does not understand how the administrative procedures work, or perhaps it does not understand the nature of the judicial system,” White House spokesman Jude Derry said.
Trump’s order seeks to direct complaints about political bias to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). And at a recent Senate hearing, CIA President Joseph Simmons said the FTC had taken no action to enforce the order.
The US Commerce Department has petitioned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to obtain new transparency rules in how social platforms modify content after Trump’s executive order has been directed.
Earlier this month, FCC Chairman Ajit Bay agreed to open the petition for public comment for a period of 45 days.
Source : Reuters