Unknown Unknowns: Why We Need More Information About How the Government Stifles the Right to Receive Information from Foreigners Online

The First Amendment right to receive information ensures that where speakers are free to speak, listeners receive their speech. In theory, this right has been enshrined through doctrine, and is critical in protecting the First Amendment’s goals of truth- seeking, self-governance, and self-realization. In practice, with respect to foreign speech online, the right to receive is not realized, impacting the First Amendment’s goals. Courts have repeatedly struck down right to receive claims because of inadequate standing. The government also cooperates with technology companies to take down (foreign) content and monitor (foreign) speakers, which prevents Americans from seeing information sent their way, both directly and through speaker self-censorship. The government’s foreign policy moves in banning apps and pressuring technology companies to remove adversarial leaders also impact this right. These moves mean that listeners do not know what they do not know.

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