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Federal court to hear new PragerU lawsuit on YouTube restricting conservative videos

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August 26, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – This week, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments from conservative pundit Dennis Prager’s educational organization Prager University (PragerU) against the Google-owned YouTube for improperly blocking younger viewers’ access to its videos.

PragerU consists of weekly five-minute videos in which a variety of thinkers and policy experts explain a wide range of subjects, from politics to religion to philosophy and personal improvement. Among PragerU’s offerings have been a moral case against abortion and an exposé of Planned Parenthood.

In October 2017, Prager filed a federal lawsuit against YouTube and its parent company for placing dozens (currently more than 200) of PragerU’s videos in “restricted mode,” meaning they were inaccessible from accounts that employed parental controls to shield children from violent, sexual, or otherwise-inappropriate content. His suit argued that the videos contained no sex, nudity, foul language, or graphic violence, and were being restricted in violation of YouTube’s Terms of Use.

The suit was tossed last year, leading PragerU to appeal to the 9th Circuit as well as file another lawsuit in state court. The 7th Circuit will hear arguments in the case on Tuesday.

PragerU’s latest suit argues first that YouTube officials’ own testimony identifying itself as a “public forum” makes it subject to judicial precedent that identifies such a forum’s speech regulation as “state action” subject to First Amendment scrutiny. 

It argues next that Google’s censorship practices render its stated claims to respect “freedom of expression” and practice “neutrality” misrepresentations under the federal Lanham Act, which covers claims of false or misleading advertising.  

“Google/YouTube cannot lawfully market and monetize public speech for profit by inviting the public to upload and view video content on a global public platform expressly dedicated to and designated for ‘freedom of expression’ and ‘viewpoint neutrality,’ and then regulate and restrain the public’s speech without any regard to the legal rules and principles that give rise to, define, protect, and govern ‘freedom of expression’ and ‘viewpoint neutrality’ under the law,” the suit delcares.

“The outcome of this case will determine whether Americans can continue to express their views freely online,” PragerU digital media director Becky Yeh said. “We are seeing an outright assault against conservatives by Big Tech. Not only are these companies using their algorithms to suppress accounts and content that present a conservative point of view, but they are also preventing millions of Americans from even seeing videos from PragerU.”

YouTube and Google “control the content that billions of people see worldwide, and with that power, Google is using its platform to ban ideas and perpetuate the misinformation of the Left,” Yeh argued. “We cannot — and will not — let that happen on our watch.”

Last month, Dennis Prager appeared before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution to detail his group’s experiences with Google.

"Google has even restricted access to a video on the Ten Commandments. Yes, the Ten Commandments," he testified. "We have repeatedly asked Google why our videos are restricted. No explanation is ever given."

PragerU’s situation is one of the most high-profile examples of what conservatives say is Google’s left-wing bias and discrimination. Numerous leaked private conversations and documents appear to show not only that the dominant ideologies within Google are dramatically out of step with the American mainstream, but that the company is willing to enforce those ideologies through its ostensibly neutral services and platforms.

Dr. Robert Epstein, a research psychologist with the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology, estimates that Google’s search results swung 2.6 million votes to Hillary Clinton in 2016 (potentially accounting for the Democrat nominee’s popular-vote margin of just under 2.9 million). Epstein also testified that he has identified “nine different blacklists Google maintains to suppress information worldwide.”

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