Cliffhanger Mars US Election With Everything Hanging in Suspense

If you were hoping for a quick result, you will be disappointed. We go over the digital rights issues at play while we wait.

It’s been a long four years for the US. A presidency filled with corruption and chaos, an economy down in the toilet, and an out of control pandemic that is killing thousands every day. As instability has rocked the country for so long, it seems somehow fitting that uncertainty would also plague the 2020 election as well.

Even at 10:30PM Pacific Time, a result has not materialized. In fact, many have been saying that we won’t even come close to finding out a result until, at earliest, tomorrow morning. Even then, there is the question of mail in ballots with Republicans demanding that those votes don’t count.

Of course, we here at Freezenet are following the election anyway despite how nausiating it might be at times. This is because the election is certainly an important one.

A lot of the focus has been on a number of general topics. These topics include the handling (or lack thereof) of the COVID-19 pandemic at the federal level, the lack of transparency from the government, the direction the FBI, the CDC, and the EPA (among others) have taken, race relations and white supremacy, the environment, the US relationship with the world (including International trade), and plenty of other topics that could fill an entire encyclopedia. What some people might not quite understand is that there are plenty of digital rights issue currently at play.

First of all, there is network neutrality. While it was effectively gutted in 2017, there is always that possibility that things could be restored. In theory, Biden could reshape the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and allow for a process to begin the restoration of network neutrality.

In a similar vein, a shakeup at the FCC could also mean that the regulator could also back off from gutting Section 230. Section 230 is, of course, a critical pillar to online free speech. More recently, the FCC said that they are moving forward with gutting that law too all because the president threw a temper tantrum at Twitter.

There are other free speech issues to consider including the issue surrounding WeChat. Trump has been trying to ban WeChat from the US. Although the administration has been losing in the courts, the battle is continuing to be waged. A Biden win could pave the way for not only the government dropping their side of the case, but also dropping the idea of banning the application altogether.

The same could be said for social media platform TikTok as well. Trump has been also trying to ban that platform as well in the US. Hearings are set to take place tomorrow, though, as mentioned with WeChat, a Biden win might actually put a stop to the efforts to ban the platform as well.

The bottom line is this, Trump has effectively taken a sledgehammer to digital rights already. Key pillars to protect freedom are falling one by one. Whole platforms are under threat of censorship by the president. The president has also suggested in the past that it would open up libel laws so that he could more easily sue publications for publishing inconvenient facts.

Yes, we do acknowledge that there are plenty of very big issues in play for this election, but we also wanted to point out that digital rights is also in play for this election as well. As we wait for a results, these are some of the things top of mind for us. At the moment, just about everything (the court case is moving ahead despite the election) is on hold until the picture of the 2020 election picture gets clearer.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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