A federal judge presiding over an appeal over a new Texas technology law seems convinced that Twitter is now actually a website, but an internet service provider.
Protocol reports proceedings relating to a new Texas technology law that has been appealed by Big Tech trade groups and successfully paused, as of Tuesday:
Judges presiding over the hearing in a New Orleans courtroom were weighing whether to pave the way for a Texas law designed to punish social media services for alleged anti-conservative bias.
At the urging of two Big Tech business groups, a federal district court previously suspended the law, finding — as many courts have done before — that government actions aimed at coercing private actors into adopting a political opinion particular violate the First Amendment to the Constitution.
The state of Texas has appealed the break and is trying to reinstate the law, but it appears the judges struggled to understand some pretty basic concepts in the case:
Texas then appealed its loss, leading to Monday’s hearing, in which one judge suggested Twitter wasn’t even a website and another questioned whether the phone had the First Amendment right to kick people out of their services.
Judge Edith Jones told a lawyer for the plaintiffs, trade groups representing Big Tech platforms like Google, Meta and Twitter, that their customers were “internet service providers…not websites.”
Another judge, Andrew Oldham, also expressed concern that without the new law, mobile carriers like Verizon could block customers from making calls if they contain lyrics the carrier doesn’t like. not :
“According to your theory, could Verizon decide that it’s going to hear every phone call…and when it hears a speech it doesn’t like, it ends the phone call?” said Oldham.
Oldham also expressed concern about “extraordinary” rules under which liberal state speech, as well as conservative speech, could be banned on the platforms, alluding to Elon Musk’s impending takeover of Twitter:
“Its new owner…could just decide that we, the modern public square of Twitter…will not have pro-LGBT speech, period, period? Oldham said, apparently nodding to Elon Musk’s expected takeover of Twitter.
The report notes that Jones “appeared to confuse Internet Service Providers (broadband and wireless companies) with Interactive Computing Services more than once.”