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Quote of the Day: Taxpayer Privacy and IRS Abuse

At CFIF, the issue of improving taxpayer privacy and protection against persistent abuse by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) remains among our most important missions.  Among the abuses that we've chronicled is the case of convicted criminal Charles Littlejohn, who rejoined the IRS in 2017 with the specific purpose of illegally breaching and leaking the private tax returns of Donald Trump and other Americans to radical left-wing organizations like ProPublica.

In The Wall Street Journal this week, one of those victims speaks out on his own experience and the need for greater taxpayer protection against this recurring problem that should terrify all Americans of every political persuasion.  Ira Stoll, whose tax information was passed to ProPublica, even helpfully details how…[more]

May 29, 2024 • 11:28 AM

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"Net Neutrality?" Twitter Hypocritically Censors Conservative Representative Marsha Blackburn Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, October 12 2017
Based upon events this week, when Twitter censored Representative Marsha Blackburn (R - Tennessee), its professed commitment to a free and open internet only applies when that suits its own self-interest.

"Net Neutrality for me, but not for thee." 

Apparently, that's the mantra of crony capitalist titans like Twitter, who ask the federal government to heavily regulate internet service as a "public utility" under laws enacted in the 1930s. 

Never mind that internet service providers already practice net neutrality and have done so throughout the internet era, if for no other reason than any service provider that began selectively censoring websites would quickly find itself losing customers and out of business.  What groups like Twitter really want is to leverage the federal government to regulate internet service in a manner that favors their business models. 

Based upon events this week, when Twitter censored Representative Marsha Blackburn (R - Tennessee), its professed commitment to a free and open internet only applies when that suits its own self-interest. 

For anyone still unaware, Representative Blackburn tweeted a brief video announcing her candidacy to replace retiring Tennessee Republican Senator Bob Corker in 2018.  She highlighted her conservative credentials, criticized current Senate Republicans who "act like Democrats or worse," then concluded, "I fought Planned Parenthood and we stopped the sale of baby body parts, thank God." 

She featured no graphic images, no profanity, no false statements, no tasteless content of the sort that too often populates the internet and Twitter itself. 

Yet Twitter nevertheless decided to censor Representative Blackburn, a sitting member of Congress and the odds-on favorite to replace Senator Corker.  Its rationale?  "The line in this video specific to 'stopped the sale of baby body parts' has been deemed an inflammatory statement that is likely to evoke a strong negative reaction." 

We're talking about Twitter, a platform that would likely lose half of its content if it eliminated every "inflammatory statement" that evokes a "strong negative reaction," whether from the world of sports, entertainment, politics or everyday life. 

Regardless, Twitter's behavior should alarm Americans of all political persuasions, whatever their specific opinions on the issue of abortion. 

That's particularly true given Twitter's habit of leveraging its market power to influence public policy, using soothing rhetoric that contradicts its actual behavior. 

As one glaring example, consider the themes Twitter employed in urging Americans to preserve internet regulations imposed by the Obama Administration's Federal Communications Commission (FCC) shortly before its term expired in 2015: 

The Internet is the most successful medium for innovation and free expression ever invented.  This success has been built upon the internet's open architecture, the ability of entrepreneurs to innovate without asking permission, and for such innovators to do so without fear of discrimination.  In general, these principles mean that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are obligated to treat and transmit all bits equally, regardless of origin, content, or destination...  The FCC Net Neutrality rules effectively safeguard the open Internet as an engine of innovation and investment and as a global platform of free expression. 

Never do they explain, of course, how the internet flourished since its 1990s inception and became "the most successful medium for innovation and free expression ever invented," yet somehow needed the Obama FCC to begin heavily regulating the internet as a "public utility" under Depression-era statutes in order to make it something that it already was. 

Nevertheless, note Twitter's cynical profession of commitment to freedom of expression in pursuit of its corporate ends: 

Free expression is part of our company DNA.  We are the platform that lets users see what's happening and to see all sides.  Whether it be music, sports, news or entertainment, being able to see every side of a topic makes Twitter unlike any other platform or service in the world...  Moreover, without Net Neutrality in force, ISPs would even be able to block content they didn't like, reject apps and content that compete with their own offerings, and arbitrarily discriminate against content providers by prioritizing certain Internet traffic over theirs. 

"Free expression?"  "See all sides?"  Fear that someone might "block content they didn't like?" 

Well, unless that expression or content comes from a sitting Republican Representative who doesn't share Twitter's preference for heavy-handed internet regulations imposed by the Obama Administration's FCC, apparently. 

Memo to Twitter:  If you're going to insist on leveraging your market power to influence public policy and push government regulation of internet service that benefits your own bottom line, the least you could do is practice what you preach. 


Notable Quote   
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— Natalia Mittelstadt, Just the News
Liberty Poll   

Which would be the most useful for voters: a televised presidential debate that only includes Trump and Biden or one that adds Kennedy?