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Apple, Google censoring religion, NRB says
Holly Naylor, Baptist Press
October 04, 2011

Apple, Google censoring religion, NRB says

Apple, Google censoring religion, NRB says
Holly Naylor, Baptist Press
October 04, 2011

WASHINGTON – Apple, Google and other Internet giants are

participating in religious discrimination and restricting free speech,

according to a new report by the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB).

“If Christian content and worldview programming are censored by new media platforms

… the Good News of the gospel could become one more casualty of institutionalized

religious discrimination,” said Frank Wright, president of the NRB.

The report, released Sept. 15 in Washington, examined the policies and

practices of Apple, Facebook, Google, Myspace and Twitter, as well as internet

service providers Comcast, AT&T and Verizon.

Twitter is the only corporation that did not show signs of religious

discrimination, according to the report. Twitter refuses to monitor or remove

content unless it interferes with the terms of service.

The ideal proposition for solving this problem, according to the NRB, is to

persuade the individual companies to eradicate censorship voluntarily and abide

by their obligation to protect free speech. If the suggestions are not taken

into consideration, NRB said it is willing to respond with such actions as

legislation, regulation or litigation.

NRB’s report included the following examples of discrimination or potential

censorship:

  • Apple offers hundreds of thousands of iPhone applications, but removed two

    apps by ex-gay Christian ministry Exodus International. Consumers were denied

    access to these two apps because their Christian content was considered “offensive.”

  • Facebook’s decision to partner with the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against

    Discrimination (GLAAD) could mean that “Christian content critical of

    homosexuality, same-sex marriage or similar practices will be at risk of

    censorship.”

  • Google initially refused to allow the Christian Institute of England to

    purchase advertisement space because of its information about abortion law.

    After the institute sued Google under Britain’s Equality Act, the internet

    conglomerate revised its policy, requiring the information to be “factual.”

These few giant corporations virtually rule the vast Internet world. The

report, an effort of the NRB’s John Milton Project, says corporate leaders hold

the power to ban content when they alone determine whether an application,

website, article or viewpoint is considered “accurate” and “factual.”

A recurring theme when dealing with online censorship is the question of

whether the First Amendment should apply to these privately owned and operated

corporations. The right to free speech only pertains to public utilities;

however, the Internet is a resource that is used as a public forum for

discussion on a daily basis.

The report emphasizes the internet as an outlet through which individuals can

address controversial issues to a “potentially unlimited audience.” It also

says the freedom to express those opinions through this continually improving

technological channel must be defended.

“I hope these companies, the good companies that they are, get the message that

they may be coloring outside the lines here,” said Colby May, director of the

Washington, D.C., offices of the American Center for Law and Justice. May spoke

during a panel discussion after the release of the NRB report at the National

Press Club. “Let’s do the right thing here.”

NRB is a non-partisan, international association of Christian communicators. It

said it tackled the issue because it is “committed to representing Christian

broadcasting wherever threats to religious freedom emerge.”

The NRB report can be accessed online at http://content.nrb.org/Webdocs/Legal/True%20liberty-in-a-New-Media-Age9-15-11.pdf.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Holly Naylor, a senior at Union University in Jackson,

Tenn., is attending the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities’

Washington Journalism Center this semester and serving as an intern with

Baptist Press.)