Over the last few years, technology platforms have repeatedly censored online expression by Palestinians and their allies. In one example of this, technology companies have refused to host speech by Palestinian activist Leila Khaled. Khaled is associated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a group on the State Department’s list of designated terrorist organizations. Since 2020, Zoom, Facebook, YouTube, and Eventbrite have all censored academic events hosted by colleges and universities at which Khaled was invited to appear.
EFF filed a Freedom of Information Act request for records from the State Department last summer to find out whether the federal government directed technology platforms to censor Khaled’s speech. Six months later, the State Department has still not confirmed whether any such records exist, much less turned records over as required by the Freedom of Information Act. EFF is suing to force the agency to comply with its obligations under FOIA and to learn what role the federal government played in this platform censorship.
As EFF Legal Director Corynne McSherry wrote in 2020, “Particularly now, when so much intellectual debate depends on Internet communication, we need Internet services willing to let that debate happen. And if those service don’t exist, now would be a good time to create them—and for universities to commit to using them.”
You can read the complaint below: