In this week’s episode Julie Walsh talks with David Hancharik, an electrical engineer who has worked in the telecommunications industry for over 36 years. David and Julie discuss the controversy regarding free speech and “Big Tech” – the technology companies that make our internet and social media usage possible.
In the wake of the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, social media companies suspended accounts (President Trump’s most notable among them) and hosting companies took websites offline. To many, these actions felt like attacks on Americans’ freedom of speech.
But were they? It’s not such a simple question. Do private companies infringe on individuals’ freedom of speech when they don’t permit them to use the companies’ platforms? In a world where most political speech has moved online, have those platforms come to be our newest, and most important, public square? And which is more important: companies’ rights to their private property or individuals’ rights to use that property for public speech?
David and Julie spoke at such length on these questions (and more) that we’re splitting the conversation into two episodes. This first episode covers: the often-discussed (but perhaps seldom understood) “Section 230” of the Communications Decency Act; how the right to free speech interacts with the right to private property; the concept of the public square; what “Big Tech” currently protects its users from; the enormity of the current moment; and the fact that “Big Tech” is made up of real, individual people, each with their own consciences.
David Hancharik is an electrical engineer who has worked in the telecommunications field for over 36 years. A majority of his experience has been in the areas of satellite communications for consumer and national security applications. While David’s primary responsibilities have been in the analysis and design of these systems, he is also involved in business development and exposed to commercial and national security industry customer communities.
David has taught scriptural studies throughout his adult life and has been a Catholic Catechist for the past ten years. He is keenly aware of the moral benefits and evils that are made possible by the telecommunications industry, as well as how conscience considerations are applied within it.
You can find the text of “Section 230” here.
Theme music is by purple-planet.com