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Radio News: New York passes likely unconstitutional law regulating website conduct

Jun 15, 2022 11:33 pm

Mike Masnick at Techdirt reports about the likely unconstitutional law that New York passed in the wake of the Buffalo mass shooting. The law requires websites to have a “hateful conduct policy.” Of course, website do not really have any conduct, but they contain speech. And the government is not allowed to regulate speech, outside yelling fire in a crowded theater. The law defines hateful conduct as "the use of a social media network to vilify, humiliate, or incite violence against a group or a class of persons on the basis of race, color, religion, ethnicity, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression." That describes speech, not conduct. And speech is protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The law claims that it has nothing to do with free speech: "Nothing in this section shall be construed (a) as an obligation imposed on a social media network that adversely affects the rights or freedoms of any persons, such as exercising the right of free speech pursuant to the first amendment to the United States Constitution," the law says. If it does not regulate speech, what exactly is the "conduct" of websites that it seeks to alter?