Sunday, May 19

Rumble reveals censorship demands from surprising list of countries as CEO to testify on free speech threats

EXCLUSIVE: Rumble, a popular video-sharing and cloud service platform, has revealed a number of censorship demands it’s received from the governments of countries that may surprise many.

The major tech company shared the details of those demands with Fox News Digital, as well as CEO Chris Pavlovski’s prepared remarks for his testimony on Capitol Hill this week, which will take place at a House hearing centered on rising censorship and free speech concerns in Brazil.

“Freedom of speech and freedom of expression are the cornerstones of a democratic society,” Pavlovski is expected to tell members of the House Subcommittee on Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations on Tuesday.

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“Freedom of expression is so important, that not only is it the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, but it is also Article 19 in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” he is expected to say. “It is extremely troubling to me that in 2024 I have to come before the U.S. Congress to testify that these fundamental rights are being threatened.”

Of those threats Pavlovski is expected to mention – most of which would be considered the norm by countries like China, Russia or North Korea – the perpetrators are actually liberal democracies where personal freedoms have typically been held in high regard.

According to Rumble, it’s become a common theme for those countries to try and control what can and cannot be said online, especially if the content happens to be politically unpopular or inconvenient for their respective governments.

One such demand came from the French government, which wanted Rumble to essentially take action reminiscent of the Chinese Communist Party by removing content posted on its site by Russia Today – an outlet funded by the Russian government – despite none of its posting policies being violated.

Rumble is in the midst of a legal battle with the French government over the demand despite trying to engage with it over the content, and has temporarily suspended its service in the country.

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A similar situation has played out in Brazil following President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s election victory in 2022 and subsequent protests by supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro that some likened to the Jan. 6, 2021, protests at the U.S. Capitol.

According to Rumble, whose services are also suspended in the country amid ongoing legal challenges, the Brazilian government has attempted to censor political opponents and journalists on the site.

Additionally, Rumble has faced pressure from the Australian and New Zealand governments to remove content from its site, including the viral video of a Sydney bishop being attacked while conducting a church service, and data released by a government whistleblower concerning the efficacy of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The company is challenging those governments as well.

In his congressional testimony, Pavlovski is expected to inform the committee about the efforts by France, Australia, New Zealand and Brazil to block the availability of certain content from their respective citizens, and will emphasize the “overt” nature of governments’ censorship attempts.

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“Governments are acting in ways we only imagine happening 50 to 60 years ago, openly asking platforms to censor and take down disfavored content. They are back in the business of thinking they know what’s best, dictating and controlling conversations, and stripping the human right to speak and share freely,” Pavloski is expected to testify.

“These are not theoretical fears. These things are happening, and I know this personally as the CEO of a platform that receives demands from governments around the world,” he will say. “Countries in every hemisphere, all of them members of the United Nations, are no longer upholding the human right to freedom of expression. This is getting out of control, and it should alarm everyone in this room.”

Pavlovski is expected to call on the U.S. government to no longer remain “silent” on the issue of defending freedom of speech, and will issue a stark warning that although Rumble is facing these demands today, it could be other outlets in the future.

“Today it is Rumble, yesterday it was X, but tomorrow it could be The New York Times. The platform shouldn’t matter; the universal right to freedom of speech and expression – the core of Western democracy – is at stake. America needs to step up and take a leading role,” he will add.

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