On Sunday night, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy fired off a letter to fellow House Republicans in which he exhorted them to confront Big Tech for their “infringement of public speech rights.”
McCarthy minced no words in the letter, writing, “The examples of conservative censorship and bias across internet platforms has proliferated. Each one of you are all too familiar with how Big Tech and its overwhelmingly liberal executives want to set the agenda and silence conservatives.”
McCarthy then segued to Big Tech for implementing a “gatekeeper effect” that provides them “the ability to stack the deck,” opining, “If your company or product doesn’t meet the criteria of corporate wokeism, it’s increasingly likely Americans won’t find it on these platforms.” He added, “Big Tech wants higher corporate taxes because companies like Amazon know it’s the entrepreneurs and disruptors who will have to pay more to try to compete.”
McCarthy then outlined three principles the GOP should use to buttress their reformation of how Big Tech does business: First, “taking away the liability shield Big Tech has hidden behind for far too long. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act would be changed to limit liability protections for moderation of speech that is not protected by the First Amendment and would preclude Big Tech from discriminating against Americans based on their political affiliation. We would also require regular reauthorization of Section 230 so Congress may update regulations of the constantly-evolving internet landscape.”
Section 230 of the U.S. Code states:
No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account ofany action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.
Critics have pointed out that the vague phrase “otherwise objectionable” gives broad license to sites such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter to censor material on a subjective basis.
Second, McCarthy demanded that Big Tech exhibit more transparency about their terms of service, writing that Americans would be empowered by “ending Big Tech’s ability to hide behind vague terms of service that have not constrained their conduct in any meaningful way. We will do so by mandating that any Big Tech content moderation decisions or censorship must be listed, with specificity, on a publicly available website. In addition, by requiring Big Tech to implement and maintain a reasonable user-friendly appeals process, our plan will empower conservatives and others whose speech rights have been infringed to challenge Big Tech’s attacks.”
Last, McCarthy is determined not to let the ponderous pace of government impede the reformation of Big Tech. He wrote: “The status quo and bureaucratic delays are not acceptable when it comes to bringing long-overdue antitrust scrutiny to Big Tech. We will provide an expedited court process with direct appeal to the Supreme Court and empower state attorneys general to help lead the charge against the tech giants to break them up. We will also reform the administrative state and remove impediments that delay taking action on Big Tech power. … I have more faith in elected state leaders than in the unelected federal bureaucracy, which is as ideologically homogeneous as Big Tech.”
He concluded, “Conservatives and our ideas have been targeted by Big Tech for too long. We must step up because make no mistake, the Democrats continue to demonstrate no interest in addressing fairness when it comes to conservative viewpoints. And they’ll continue to use Big Tech to do so.”
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