A Republican senator has introduced a bill aimed at stopping censorship on social-media platforms based on political ideologies.
Sponsored by freshman Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., the Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act seeks to remove protections granted by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act from platforms that don’t act with neutrality toward political views, reports the Gateway Pundit
The law currently does not view social-media platforms as publishers, meaning they are not responsible for user-posted content.
But platforms such as Facebook and Twitter regularly are accused of taking a particular, usually left-leaning, editorial stance by removing posts with certain conservative viewpoints and banning conservative members.
If Hawley’s bill becomes law, the platforms would be required to adhere to the First Amendment if they want to maintain their waiver from liability under the Communications Decency Act.
“With Section 230, tech companies get a sweetheart deal that no other industry enjoys: complete exemption from traditional publisher liability in exchange for providing a forum free of political censorship,” Hawley said. “Unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, big tech has failed to hold up its end of the bargain.”
The bill would not affect platforms with fewer than 30 million monthly users or less than $500 million in global annual revenue. Facebook, Google, Twitter and YouTube would be subject to it.
Hawley said there’s “a growing list of evidence that shows big tech companies making editorial decisions to censor viewpoints they disagree with.”
“Even worse, the entire process is shrouded in secrecy because these companies refuse to make their protocols public,” he said. “This legislation simply states that if the tech giants want to keep their government-granted immunity, they must bring transparency and accountability to their editorial processes and prove that they don’t discriminate.”
The bill would require the tech giants to submit to an audit every two years to prove to the Federal Trade Commission that they are acting neutrally.
The Internet Association, which lobbies for Facebook and Google, opposes the bill, contending it “forces platforms to make an impossible choice: either host reprehensible, but First Amendment protected speech, or lose legal protections that allow them to moderate illegal content like human trafficking and violent extremism.”
“That shouldn’t be a tradeoff,” the Internet Association’s president and CEO, Michael Beckerman.
The Gateway Pundit pointed out that Hawley’s bill seeks only to protect free and legal speech, which would not include human trafficking.