Over the past 10 years, the primary threats to US internet freedom have come from abroad, as countries like China, Russia, and India have erected barriers to the flow of information. In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, however, the biggest threat to a borderless internet now comes from within the United States.
Already, state legislatures are laying the groundwork for digital secession that will carve up the rights that are now commonplace for internet users. We are on a path to a digital civil war, where blue states and red states create different rules to govern the internet, with conflicting laws on speech and data privacy. And it will be a compliance nightmare for platforms and users alike. The end result will be worse products, more concentration in the tech market, and reduced rights online.
The battle lines are already being drawn. In South Carolina, for example, the Republican legislature is considering a bill that would criminalize “hosting or maintaining an internet website … that provides information on how to obtain an abortion.” Democrats, on the other hand, are trying to stop platforms from censoring information on how to obtain a lawful abortion. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren wrote a letter to Meta expressing concerns about the company’s removal of abortion-related posts.
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