Reason Roundup

Free Speech on the Internet Continues to Confuse Everyone

Plus: 8chan called before Congress, data privacy bill hits a snag, and more...


There's a lot of weird and bad information these days about the federal law known as Section 230. The New York Times even put out an op-ed trying to fight the common myth that social media companies are "platforms" that lose legal protections provided by Section 230 if they start making editorial decisions like "publishers." (In reality, the law makes no distinction and requires no such neutrality.) Nonetheless, the Times has started spreading its own extremely misguided analysis of the law. So misguided that the paper was forced to issue a correction, after running a headline on the front page of Tuesday's business section claiming that Section 230 legalized hate speech and was why "hate speech on the internet is a never-ending problem."

On Tuesday afternoon, Times writer 

Tech lawyers and others have been deservedly dragging the paper:

But correcting blatantly wrong (and suspiciously bad faith) tech analysis is like playing whack-a-mole these days. Today, The Wall Street Journal lets Dennis Prager do his own misrepresentations of Section 230:

Meanwhile, 8chan is the latest tech company to have its creator summoned to testify before Congress.


A "data privacy" bill before Congress is being held up over different priorities between Republicans and Democrats. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D–Wash.) was circulating "a privacy framework that would allow consumers to sue companies for mishandling their data. That 'private right of action' is a non-starter for industry and Republicans," reports The Hill. More:

Other prominent sticking points in the negotiations have included the Republican push to include preemption, which would allow the federal law to override state laws. Preemption has been a top priority for the tech industry, which has warned against a "patchwork" of state laws, but Democrats insist they won't approve any law that is weaker than the California one. 

"We believe that having one standard is important," Sen. John Thune (R–S.D.), a member of the Senate privacy working group and GOP majority whip, told The Hill. "And of course, the Democrats have their priorities in this as well.


The makers of Arizona Iced Tea are getting into weed. From The Wall Street Journal:

Arizona Beverage Co. has reached a licensing deal with Dixie Brands Inc., a Denver-based cannabis company that makes and sells weed vaporizers, candies, drinks, tinctures and topical creams in five U.S. states. Under the agreement, Dixie will manufacture the products and sell them through licensed dispensaries. The deal, which is subject to approval by Dixie's board, also gives Arizona the right to buy a stake of up to $10 million in the cannabis company.

Plans for the Arizona line are in the early stages. It is likely to start with vape pens and gummies, followed by a variety of beverages that could include tea, lemonade, soda, coffee or seltzer, officials said. Dixie intends to launch the line in the U.S., then expand it to Canada and Latin America.


Mike Gravel has dropped out of the 2020 race:

Meanwhile, Trump is at war with Democratic candidate Beto O'Rourke:

And some reassessments of the 2020 Democrats after their last debate:


  • An 18-week abortion ban in Arkansas has been temporarily blocked. The judge "specifically addressed the 18-week ban, implying that she would ultimately rule in favor of the abortion rights advocates on the grounds that it is unconstitutional," reports CNN.
  • The governor of Florida ordered an investigation into the state's previous handling of Jeffrey Epstein.
  • After 15 years in prison, Cyntoia Brown has been freed on parole. Brown has been incarcerated since she was 16 and killed a man trying to pay her for sex. She was granted clemency after activists, including celebrities Kim Kardashian West and Rihanna, lobbied for her release.
  • Uh oh: