The video-sharing platform Rumble and a constitutional law scholar are among those suing New York over the state’s new “Online Hate Speech Law,” claiming the law’s language is so broad it could put bloggers at risk of financial ruin merely for sharing opinions the state disfavors.
The nonprofit Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) last week filed the lawsuitin the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on behalf of three plaintiffs: online video-sharing platform Rumble, its “Locals” subscription platform and First Amendment scholar Eugene Volokh, publisher of “The Volokh Conspiracy” blog.
The lawsuit names New York State Attorney General Letitia James as the sole defendant.
According to the plaintiffs, the legislation — which took effect Dec. 3 — will oblige online platforms to target and censor speech that is protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
In a statement, FIRE said, “The law is titled ‘Social media networks; hateful conduct prohibited,’ but it actually targets speech the state doesn’t like — even if that speech is fully protected by the First Amendment.”
According to the legislation, online platforms are required to “provide and maintain mechanisms for reporting hateful conduct on their platform,” and are subject to fines of up to $1,000 per day for non-compliance.
The plaintiffs are asking the court to declare the new legislation in violation of the First and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, which protect free speech and due process, respectively.
They also seek a permanent injunction against enforcement of the law, a declaration that the new law violates Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and attorney’s fees and costs.