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Internet and Free Speech

The fundamental right of free speech requires robust communication technologies and the Internet has proven to be an essential part of preserving that right.  Unfettered speech depends upon equal and uncensored access to all forms of wired and wireless communication infrastructure and its many applications, including voice, video, and the Internet.  Moreover, accessibility to reliable and factual information requires a free and unrestrained press.  Additionally, no collective group of persons in the United States, regardless of their nationality, religion, race or ethnicity should be attacked, vilified or held responsible for the acts of a foreign government.  To protect and advance this fundamental right, California Democrats support policies to preserve and encourage continued innovation of open, fast, accessible, and competitive communication and Internet services for all.

To promote and support free speech, communications, and the Internet, California Democrats will:

  • Support reclassification of ISPs (Internet Service Providers) by the FCC as common carriers and urge the promulgation and enforcement of robust net neutrality regulations to create an Internet without any speed or content access preference;
  • Combat the digital divide by advocating for broadband infrastructure in underserved and rural communities statewide;
  • Work to establish publicly owned high-speed Internet infrastructure through cities, counties, and special districts and secure state government support for such projects;
  • Advocate for greater privacy protection and the protection of personally identifiable information of law-abiding Internet consumers;
  • Advocate for build-out of high-speed wired and wireless networks to all homes and businesses, especially in underserved and rural areas, to ensure equal access to and ability to upload and download content at high speeds and full participate in e-commerce, education, and digital medicine;
  • Support requiring redundant connections to the Internet throughout all parts of California to mitigate service disruption, especially in the event of natural disasters;
  • Protect American creativity and jobs by combating online piracy and enhancing cybersecurity;
  • Demand review of all communication operators transmitting over the radio spectrum to ensure that they meet their licensing obligations of serving the public interest;
  • Defend freedom of the press and not tolerate any government-sponsored infringement;
  • Defend the right to engage in First Amendment protected speech critical of the U.S. or any government by opposing all legislative and other efforts to penalize or criminalize such speech;
  • Advocate for the dismantling of communication and media conglomerates that distort balanced information to the public and create an anti-competitive market for Internet services;
  • Combat the disinformation that is disseminated in bad faith;
  • Ensure that all communications will be protected from warrantless search and seizure as guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution and the California Constitution;
  • Support ongoing research and implementation of best practices that use the Internet to foster collaboration and give stronger voice to communities;
  • Work to ensure that users of technology are allowed to repair and maintain the equipment or software they’ve purchased;
  • Affirm the fair use and first sale doctrines of copyrighted works in all mediums;
  • Support the right of individuals to criticize persons, corporations or government, but not for reasons of racial, religious, ethnic, gender identity, or sexual orientation discrimination;
  • Combat efforts to legitimize or justify discrimination or hate speech based on gender identity, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, disability, or national origin, recognizing that discriminatory, hateful or offensive language or conduct may be perceived as such based on the experience and viewpoints of the targeted persons or groups; and,
  • Work to require all commercial websites meet commonly accepted accessibility standards for users with disabilities, whether or not the company has a physical location.