CO bill punishes unpopular speech with criminal charges and hefty fines

SB21-132, otherwise known as “Digital Communications Regulation,” is nothing more than state-sponsored censorship. The bill makes it mandatory for any communications platform “with customers in Colorado” to register with the state, pay a fee, and then be subjected to the state comission’s opinions about what constitutes hate speech, disinformation, fake news, election undermining, or antyhing the state of Colorado determines to be adversive.

The bill creates a “digital communications division,” which is responsible for holding hearings to determine if a platform has allowed “discriminatory digital communucations practices,” which, according to the bill:

  • Include practices that promote hate speech; undermine election integrity; disseminate intentional disinformation, conspiracy theories, or fake news; or authorize, encourage, or carry out violations of users’ privacy; and
  • May include business, political, or social practices that are conducted in a manner that a person aggrieved by the practices can demonstrate are unfair or discriminatory to the aggrieved person. Such practices, if done in an unfair or discriminatory manner, might include:
  • Practices that target users for purposes of collecting and disseminating users’ personal data, including users’ sensitive data;
  • Profiling users based on their personal data collected;
  • Selling or authorizing others to use users’ personal data to provide location-based advertising or targeted advertising; or
  • Using facial recognition software and other tracking technology.

The bill’s imaginary comission is headed by a director, and it has five “experts” appointed by Governor Polis and the Colorado Senate (democrat-controlled), and two members of the public. The comissioners will serve two to four year terms and will be solely responsible for determining what constitutes “hate speech,” “disinformation,” “election-undermining opinions,” and anything else the comission doesn’t like. Those in violation of speech the comission does not like could be charged with misdemeanors, which carry fines up to $5,000 dollars and up to one year in jail.

“THE DIRECTOR SHALL APPOINT INVESTIGATORS AND OTHER
PERSONNEL AS MAY BE NECESSARY TO CARRY OUT THE FUNCTIONS AND
DUTIES OF THE DIVISION. THE DIRECTOR AND STAFF OF THE DIVISION
SHALL RECEIVE, INVESTIGATE, AND MAKE DETERMINATIONS ON CHARGES ALLEGING UNFAIR AND DISCRIMINATORY DIGITAL COMMUNICATIONS PRACTICES IN VIOLATION OF THIS PART.”

SB21-132 uses the guise of protecting readers’ and constituents’ data from digital communication platforms; any digital platform must register. Once registered, the platform is subject to the rules of speech that the speech commission defines as “safe and allowable.”

The bill was introduced to the State, Veteran & Military Affairs Committee by Senator Kerry Donovan, and it has no co-sponsors as of this writing, probably because even the most hardened Democrats won’t touch a bill that limits their constituents’ right to free speech. However, it remains to be seen how many Democrats vote in favor of the proposed legislation in order to censor their constituents.

SB21-132 is one of the most egregious and disrespectful bills ever to be introduced in the Colorado Senate, and it comes on the heels of over a year of cancel culture, conservative cleansing, and outright censorship. Kerry Donovan must believe that she has the right to censor the flow of ideas. Right or wrong, neither Donovan nor any member of the Colorado legislature holds that power

The bill ends with a clause that if the person offended by unpopular speech cannot obtain his desired remedy via Colorado’s new commission on digital speech, he may sue in district court. Talk about a slippery slope…