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06/20/2019 / By JD Heyes
In recent days during an interview on Fox News, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) said of the slow pace that those responsible for the Obama-era “Spygate” scandal to take down POTUS Donald Trump are being held to account: “Over time, slowly, grindingly, lots of stuff comes out that smart people thought they could keep secret.”
Message: Justice comes slow in the nation’s capital but, very often, it does come.
That can also be said about the country’s tech giants, who have been censoring conservative, pro-Trump content and banning individuals who support the president: Justice is slow, but it may be on its way.
A new bill introduced by U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) would hold social media companies accountable for their continued censorship practices by forcing them to adhere to the principles of free speech and expression as mandated by the First Amendment, or risk losing their liability waiver.
Called the “Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act,” the bill, if passed and signed into law by the president, would “remove protections granted by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act if platforms are not acting neutral in regards to political views,” The Gateway Pundit reported.
At present, social media platforms can’t be held responsible or legally liable for any user-posted content because they are not really considered ‘publishers.’
But as the companies become more politicized and take editorial stances on positions, a growing number of critics have been calling for those protections to be stripped away.
Hawley’s bill would require tech platforms to follow the First Amendment for free and legal speech or lose their liability protections.
“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 noted. “Unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, big tech has failed to hold up its end of the bargain.” (Related: The best news websites to visit each day to beat the censorship purge by the evil tech giants.)
The bill takes aim at the social media giants — those platforms with 30 million or more users and $500 million or more in global revenue annually. Smaller chat rooms and message boards, then, would not be affected — but YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter would.
“There’s a growing list of evidence that shows big tech companies making editorial decisions to censor viewpoints they disagree with,” Hawley noted. “Even worse, the entire process is shrouded in secrecy because these companies refuse to make their protocols public. 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 also requires the tech companies to submit to an audit every two years so they can certify to the Federal Trade Commission that they are behaving as a neutral platform for all views and all manner of legal speech.
Needless to say, the tech giants have already come out in opposition — because they know that Hawley, who has made tech company accountability his signature issue in the Senate and before, when he was Missouri’s attorney general — is fully aware of their practices.
“This bill 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 trade-off,” Michael Beckerman, president and CEO of the Internet Association, said in a statement.
That’s not even close to accurate. As Hawley stated, only legal speech would be protected. And even Beckerman tacitly admitted that “First Amendment-protected speech,” while perhaps “reprehensible” to some people, does in fact get censored.
It’s high time for this legislation. The tech giants have far too much power to play speech gods. Let justice be done for conservatives who have pined for congressional relief.
Tagged Under: Big Tech, Censorship, conservatives, exemption, Facebook, First Amendment, free speech, Josh Hawley, legal speech, legislation, liability protection, protections, publisher, speech police, tech giants, thought police, Twitter, YouTube
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