The National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) is wading into a unique and volatile communications freedom issue—the collision course between free speech on the Internet and the free market power of new media companies like Apple, Google and Facebook to block viewpoints they don’t agree with.
The stakes are continuing to rise on this dilemma: Last week, YouTube, owned by Google, banned a message by orthodox Rabbi Yehuda Levin, labeling it “hate speech” because it criticized the gay rights movement,” said Craig Parshall, NRB senior vice president and general counsel, who heads the John Milton Project for Religious Free Speech. “For similar reasons, YouTube also censored a Christian youth ministry, You can Run but you can’t Hide International … This is a problem that cannot be ignored.”
Here are some of the disturbing findings from the John Milton Project for Religious Free Speech’s new report, “True Liberty in a New Media Age”:
Apple has twice removed applications that contained Christian content from its iTunes App Store. In both instances, Apple admitted that these apps were denied access because it considered the orthodox Christian viewpoints expressed in those applications to be “offensive.”
Google has committed past practices of anti-religious censorship. For content reasons, it refused to accept a pro-life advertisement from a Christian organization, an issue that prompted litigation in England. Google is also alleged to have blocked a website in America that had conservative Christian content.