Developers Alliance files Amicus Brief to Argue that Algorithms are Protected by the First Amendment

The Developers Alliance, along with SIIA, filed an amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court to aid the Justices in understanding that the algorithms and code developers create to perform content moderation are protected by the First Amendment. The high court will hear the NetChoice, LLC v. Paxton case sometime in 2024. The case centers around the issue of social media regulation and the question of whether the First Amendment grants websites the authority to exercise editorial discretion through content moderation.

Key Facts

  • The algorithms developers create filter, sort, and manage online content to ensure a safe environment for users. Algorithms are how developers capture and structure the logical processing that a human moderator does so that the human decision-making can be implemented at scale. Importantly, this work enables developers to grow their businesses, create jobs, and generate economic growth. Because these algorithms are generated and managed by creative and industrious Americans to implement the content and usage policies of websites, they are protected by the First Amendment. 
  • Texas law HB 20 would allow individuals and states to sue social media companies for carrying out lawful content moderation activity. Texas argues that websites are censoring voices with whom they may disagree with.
  • Florida law SB 7072 allows journalists and policymakers to sue websites if they are blocked or removed from platforms. 
  • HB 20, SB 7072 and other similar laws will have devastating effects on small- and medium-sized firms hoping to grow, as they will have to navigate a confusing – and expensive – patchwork of content moderation laws. 

The following quote can be attributed to Geoffrey Lane, Head of U.S. Policy for the Developers Alliance:

“Content moderation is protected by the First Amendment. The idea that the government can force developers to host hate speech, heinous crimes, spam, and other illegal or dangerous activities on their websites is counter to everything America stands for. We’re happy to file this important brief to let the high court know how algorithms work, why they are important to devs, and how they are protected by the First Amendment.”


About The Developers Alliance

The Developers Alliance is the world’s leading advocate for software developers and the companies invested in their success. Alliance members include industry leaders in consumer, enterprise, industrial, and emerging software development, and a global network of more than 75,000 developers.

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By Geoff Lane

Policy Counsel & Head of US Policy Geoff Lane serves as the Developer Alliance’s head of U.S. policy. In this role he oversees the organization’s federal legislative and regulatory agenda as well as state-level efforts. Prior to joining the Developers Alliance in 2022, Geoff worked with senior Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives. Since his time on Capitol Hill, he has held senior roles at various technology trade associations (including a previous stint at the Developers Alliance). At each stop he led efforts at the intersection of innovation and policy. He has worked on critical policy issues including privacy, encryption, patent reform, workforce development, corporate tax, tax nexus, and research and development. Geoff holds a B.A. from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. When he is not working, you can find him booing all of his favorite Philadelphia sports teams. Geoff is based in Washington, D.C.

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