In this era of increased harassment and persecution of people on the basis of political viewpoints and…
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First Amendment Rights: Good News from the IRS on Donor Privacy

In this era of increased harassment and persecution of people on the basis of political viewpoints and First Amendment expression, there’s actually good news to report.

In fact, that positive development comes from none other than the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which few people typically consider a font of good news.

Specifically, the IRS just announced a proposed rule to stop requiring nonprofit organizations to file what’s known as a Form 990 Schedule B, which exposes sensitive donor information not only to the federal government and potential rogues like former IRS official Lois Lerner, but also people who seek to access and use that information to target people on the basis of political belief.

As we at CFIF have long asserted, this welcome move will help protect the…[more]

September 12, 2019 • 11:07 am

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Google's Chickens Coming Home to Roost Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, August 30 2018
It's therefore no surprise that Google now increasingly finds itself in the crosshairs of those whom it has wronged, whether allegedly or indisputably.

Whoever at Google selected "Don't Be Evil" as its former corporate motto obviously possessed a most profound sense of ironic humor. 

Perhaps no company rivals Google in terms of malign influence over U.S. public policy, consigning "Don't Be Evil" to the realm of ridiculous rather than descriptive. 

This week, with President Trump focusing his notorious wrath toward Google, its chickens may be coming home to roost.  If so, it only has itself to blame. 

For years now, Google has selfishly perfected the crony capitalist game to leverage federal government power in favor of its particular business model. 

As perhaps the most infamous example, Google led the campaign to persuade the federal government to impose so-called "Net Neutrality" Title II regulation upon U.S. internet service in 2015. 

That public policy, of course, was anything but "neutral."  Rather, it upended two decades of light-touch regulatory policy of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and introduced government regulation using laws enacted in the 1930s for copper-wire telephone service.  While that benefited Google and similar content providers that owned the ear of Barack Obama and his hyper-regulatory administration, it was bad for the rest of America. 

Specifically, private sector broadband investment in America immediately declined for the first time outside of an economic recession.  The internet had flourished like no innovation in human history between the years 1996 and 2015, when the federal government's hands-off approach fostered growth.  The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was already empowered to police internet sector misconduct wherever it might occur, so sudden introduction of "Mother May I?" regulation by the FCC constituted a fraudulent "fix" for an internet that wasn't broken. 

But hey, whatever served Google's crony capitalist interest, right? 

Fortunately, the new FCC under Chairman Ajit Pai quickly reversed the Obama Administration's destructive regulation, restoring the regulatory light-touch regime that existed from 1996 to 2015. 

Google's destructive influence over U.S. public policy, unfortunately, wasn't limited to leading the crony capitalist charge to increase federal internet regulation via the Obama FCC. 

Prominent among Google's litany of other misdeeds is its status as the worst serial violator of intellectual property (IP) rights.  When it comes to protecting its own IP, however, Google suddenly preaches a different sermon. 

This is important, because IP constitutes a primary factor behind America's status as the most inventive nation in human history.  No nation has protected IP  patent, copyright, trademark and trade secrets  in the way that the U.S. has since its inception.  Our Founding Fathers considered IP so important that they explicitly protected IP rights in the text of Article I of the Constitution.  As a direct result, no nation today or throughout history even approaches our record of invention, creativity and prosperity.  And as the global economy becomes increasingly competitive and knowledge-centric, American IP will only play a more and more important role in maintaining our prosperity. 

But Google has throughout its existence flagrantly disregarded IP rights, pushing the limits of legality in commandeering other people's inventions and creations for its own profit. 

Predictably, however, Google fiercely defends its own IP.  Recall, for example, its recent legal war against Uber over driverless automobile technology.  When Google believes that someone else is infringing upon its IP rights, then suddenly it considers them sacrosanct. 

Google's record of malfeasance also extends to silencing speech that it dislikes. 

This week, President Trump openly accused Google of manipulating search results in a manner detrimental to him, which commenced a firestorm of controversy and focus upon Google's behavior.  Regardless of whether Google is guilty of the particular behavior that President Trump alleges, it's beyond dispute that Google-owned YouTube has censored even such mainstream and well-mannered conservatives as Dennis Prager and his popular Prager U brief video tutorials.  

This week, John Stossel highlighted another accusation: 

Roy Spencer, author of "Climate Confusion," points out that when he does a Google search for "climate skepticism," the first 10 pages aren't links to skepticism.  Instead, they're links to articles criticizing climate change skepticism. 

By contrast, he points out, a search for "Nazi Party" yields mostly straightforward commentary about what Nazis believed. 

Climate skepticism is more in need of "correction" than Nazism? 

It's therefore no surprise that Google now increasingly finds itself in the crosshairs of those whom it has wronged, whether allegedly or indisputably.  President Trump is now suggesting official federal government action, and others believe that its legal safe harbor from laws applicable to print publishers and others should be reconsidered. 

Over in Europe, meanwhile, over 100 prominent journalists from over 20 nations have demanded legislation forcing Google and other internet platforms to pay for news content from which they profit.  The European Parliament will begin debate on that proposal next month, and the movement gained instant notoriety and momentum when Paul McCartney advocated the change. 

It would be tragic if the actions of Google and other online platforms exhibiting similar behavior prompts federal action in the form of disruptive internet legislation, or jeopardizes private companies' freedom of speech. 

If that happens, however, they would only have themselves and their repeated record of questionable conduct to blame. 

Question of the Week   
On September 17 of which one of the following years was the U.S. Constitution sent to Congress for ratification by the states?
More Questions
Quote of the Day   
 
"An FBI assistant to James Comey says in a book released Tuesday that the former FBI director took advantage of the 'chaos' of the early Trump administration to set up an interview with Michael Flynn, the national security adviser.Josh Campbell, who was Comey's personal assistant at the FBI, writes in 'Crossfire Hurricane: Inside Donald Trump's War on the FBI,' that FBI leadership had 'intense discussion…[more]
 
 
—Chuck Ross, Daily Caller
— Chuck Ross, Daily Caller
 
Liberty Poll   

Is the desire to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan in conflict with the lessons of September 11, 2001?