Loeffler: The Time Has Come to Hold Big Tech Accountable
Introduces Bill Stopping Big Tech’s Censorship of Speech, Protecting First Amendment Rights
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) introduced legislation to stop Big Tech companies from censoring speech and to protect Americans’ First Amendment rights.
The Stopping Big Tech Censorship Act would amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to provide a process for individuals to challenge technology companies’ liability protections after a company regulates otherwise constitutionally protected speech. Similar to President Trump’s recent executive order and a proposal from the U.S. Department of Justice, Loeffler’s bill also requires companies to make clear to all users how content will be moderated or regulated and to provide users a clear and thorough explanation of why their content is restricted.
“Freedom of speech is a core principle our country was founded upon. For too long, Big Tech has cloaked themselves in the protection of the First Amendment while using their platforms to censor and suppress conservative speech,” Loeffler said. “The legislation I am introducing will rein in the broad liability protections that have allowed Silicon Valley executives to promote their own political viewpoints while silencing those they disagree with. The time has come to hold these companies accountable when they cross the line.”
Loeffler also is a cosponsor of the Limiting Section 230 Immunity to Good Samaritans Act. She also sent a letter requesting that the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) reexamine Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and clearly define the criteria for which companies can receive protections under the statute.
The Stopping Big Tech Censorship Act would update existing Section 230 protections that currently do not allow providers, such as Google and Twitter, to be viewed as a “publisher” by clarifying that such protections only apply if a provider takes reasonable steps to prevent unlawful use of its service. Unlawful use is anything prohibited by federal law, and includes examples such as child exploitation and trafficking of people or illicit materials.
The bill would require companies to meet a higher standard when restricting constitutionally protected speech or conduct than the vague “good faith” standard.
The bill would create a new rebuttable presumption of liability protection when a company regulates otherwise constitutionally protected speech. In order to overcome the liability protection, a plaintiff would have to show that the provider failed to regulate content in an unbiased way; that the regulated content was subject only to a time, place or manner restriction; and that the provider did not have a compelling reason to restrict the speech or conduct.