Gab take down shows a need for Internet Bill of Rights

Social media site Gab is the latest Internet platform to be taken down for being true to its mission as a home of free speech.

Authorities cited that Pittsburgh synagogue shooter, Robert Bowers, who killed 11 congregants on Saturday, used the platform to spew his anti-semetic rantings.

The service, which competes with Twitter, stated on its site:

Gab has spent the past 48 hours proudly working with the DOJ and FBI to bring justice to an alleged terrorist. Because of the data we provided, they now have plenty of evidence for their case.

While cooperating with law enforcement, Gab was shut down by its web-hosting company, Joyent, along with domain registrar GoDaddy. Also both PayPal and Stripe, which provide payment processing, cut off the site.

No matter what Gab did to help law enforcement, the platform was in the sights of Silicon Valley. Both Apple and Google blocked Gab from their app store late last year.

Despite all this weighing on the service, its users doubled over 2018 with over 6 million daily visits.

These actions show that there is a need for an Internet Bill of Rights.

Gab right now can’t say its First Amendment rights have been violated, because from all outward appearances the government did not shut it down. A corporation cannot violate a constitutional right of another company.

That’s not to say that the government did not put pressure on GoDaddy or PayPal to cut Gab off to essentially shut down the service.

This is not equitable to a publisher refusing to put out a book because of its subject matter, this is a printing plant refusing to print anything dealing with a particular subject.

And while there may be other printers who would publish the book, the Internet has very few alternative operators to replace the technology services provided by a GoDaddy or a PayPal on the scale needed.

It’s censorship of all for the actions of one. It’s too broad a ban violating too many people’s rights to let it stand.