Today, Paul Chesser, Director of the National Legal and Policy Center’s Corporate Integrity Project, gave remarks at Verizon Communications Inc.’s annual meeting in Salt Lake City, to support a shareholder proposal the ethics group filed with the company.
NLPC’s proposal would require the company to itemize and disclose the nature of ‘take-down requests’ it has received from the U.S. government.
Revelations from “The Twitter Files,” about the aggressive efforts by the federal government to pressure social media and telecommunications companies to censor critics and political enemies of public officials, was part of the motivation for the proposal.
During Chesser’s presentation, he also called for the removal of Dan Schulman, CEO of PayPal, from the Verizon board of directors. Schulman has presided over extensive censorship, de-platforming and punitive financial measures against customers during his tenure at PayPal.
The full text of Chesser’s remarks is below:
Verizon opposes our proposal for a report on government takedown requests because the Company says it already publishes so-called “Transparency Reports,” and therefore the report we request isn’t necessary.
But what Verizon calls a “Transparency Report,” is nothing of the sort.
The report we seek asks for specific requests for censorship that Verizon has received from all branches of the United States government.
All Verizon’s alleged “Transparency Reports” give you are numbers, and zero transparency.
As we have seen from the revelations in the “Twitter Files,” agencies controlled by the White House censored their critics via social and corporate media entities, at an unprecedented scale.
For example, major tech companies including Verizon met monthly with the FBI and Homeland Security ahead of the 2020 election, to discuss how to handle so-called “election misinformation.”
Platforms, including those controlled by Verizon, reportedly removed alleged “misinformation” at the request of the government.
Yet there are no such disclosures of any censorship incidents in Verizon’s phony “Transparency Report.”
But the type of report we request would include them.
Verizon also engaged in election interference when it abruptly shut down a test run of one of Donald Trump’s most important voter-contact programs one weekend in July 2020, potentially costing the former president millions of dollars in donations.
And in 2021, members of Congress who regulate the telecom industry wrote to Verizon urging them to drop One America News Network and other conservative-leaning news channels.
If Verizon truly wanted to stop “misinformation,” they would dump CNN.
Verizon, meanwhile, claims that, “Our respect for the right to freedom of expression of opinion is fundamental to our business.”
Because of these examples I cited and others, we doubt that Verizon genuinely believes in freedom of speech.
But if Verizon wants the public to believe that, one step they could take is to ask for the resignation of Dan Schulman from the Board of Directors.
While he’s been CEO of PayPal, his company has implemented some of the most extreme cancel culture and censorship policies in Corporate America, including trying to impose a $2,500 fine of account holders who allegedly promote “misinformation.”
PayPal also terminated, without warning, the account of one of the last remaining pro-Democracy groups in Hong Kong, before it fell to the communist Chinese government.
He has no business being on the board of a major media or telecom corporation – or any company for that matter.
Thank you, and please vote FOR Item 5 on the proxy statement.
NLPC has filed more than two dozen shareholder proposals this proxy season, and appeared at the annual meetings of Apple, Disney, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Berkshire Hathaway, and Boeing, and will similarly present resolutions at many other companies in the coming weeks.
Founded in 1991, NLPC promotes ethics in public life and government accountability through research, investigation, education, and legal action.
For more information or to schedule an interview with an NLPC representative, contact Dan Rene at 202-329-8357 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please visit http://www.nlpc.org.
National Legal and Policy Center
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