Ethics in Tech condemns the violence and destruction of property at the Capitol last Wednesday. There is no room for interference with our democratic election process. We also stand against the racist and anti-Semitic attitudes expressed by a number of those in the Capitol building.
We express our sorrow for those hurt and killed and hope they and their loved ones will find peace.
We urge that those who committed violence or property destruction be prosecuted to the fullest extent of existing law.
We caution, though, against responding to this incident by increasing law enforcement power, surveillance, or government censorship. This could further harm marginalized communities who have historically been victimized by police brutality, racial profiling and injustice inherent in our criminal justice system. Establishing more legal restrictions and increasing criminal penalties for certain actions creates the risk that those legal restrictions will later be misused against other groups of activists who are peaceful.
There are existing laws against the criminal actions of those who broke into the Capitol and we call for the equal and impartial enforcement of these laws. And for a public conversation and reckoning with the root causes of the recent violence, hatred and racism within our country.
We also affirm the right of tech firms to deny Donald Trump and anyone else of their choosing the ability to communicate through their platforms. This is different from censorship by government.
First Amendment protections apply to governmental restrictions on speech, while social media firms are private companies, and as such have the right to choose whom to have as customers. To make an analogy, the government cannot stop you from giving a speech on public property, or your own property, but it can’t force the neighborhood store to sell you a microphone.
We further put out a call for tech firms who profited off of the business of those who promote hatred and violence to voluntarily repudiate hate and stand up for decency. We invite them to donate the proceeds from those clients to organizations working against hatred and for equality.