March 2, 2021

Tackling Big Tech

Josh Hawley pledges to end its tyranny, while several states aim to penalize viewpoint discrimination.

Big Tech’s abusive monopolistic practices didn’t end with the election of Joe Biden. Indeed, the problem has only gotten worse in the last two months.

Speaking at CPAC in Orlando over the weekend, Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley declared, “We will not be told what to do by these modern-day oligarchs. What we need is a new nationalism, a new agenda to make the rule of the people real in this country.”

Hawley promised, “I would start by breaking up the Big Tech corporations. Just break them up. Break them up in the name of the rule of the people, for the good of the American people and our Liberty. We need to break those corporations up and cut them down to size.”

He continued regarding his Electoral College challenge in January, “If we can’t have free and open debate according to the laws in the United States Senate, what good is the United States Senate? Why do you send anybody to Washington at all? I thought it was an important stand to take. And for that the Left has come after me. They’ve tried to silence me. They canceled a book I was writing called, The Tyranny of Big Tech. These people have no sense of irony. It’s still gonna get published, by the way. It’ll be out soon.”

Several state legislatures, meanwhile, have elected to not wait on action from Congress and have advanced their own legislation aimed at addressing Big Tech’s threat to free speech.

Republicans in Florida have put forward a bill that would fine tech companies upwards of $100,000 for censoring candidates running for public office. Backing the legislation, Governor Ron DeSantis stated, “These platforms have played an increasingly decisive role in elections and have negatively impacted Americans who dissent from orthodoxies favored by the Big Tech cartel. Used to be that consumers were trusted to make their own decisions about what information to consume, about which leaders to follow, about what news to watch. Now those decisions are increasingly made by nameless, faceless boards of censors.”

In Texas, state Senator Bryan Hughes is poised to introduce a bill that would “give any Texan who’s being discriminated against [by social media companies] the option to bring an action.” In other words, Hughes’s bill would make Big Tech liable for censoring people’s posts as viewpoint discrimination. The bill is backed by Governor Greg Abbott.

Lawmakers in Arizona have proposed legislation similar to that of Texas, which aims to specifically protect political and religious speech. Entitled the “Stop Social Media Censorship Act,” the bill says tech companies could be fined upwards of $75,000 for each instance of deplatforming. The bill would also ban tech companies from engaging in “shadow banning,” which is the act of “blocking or partially blocking a user or the user’s content from an online community so that it is not readily apparent to the user that the user has been banned.”

Finally, several state senators in Minnesota have promoted a bill intended to prevent “online content discrimination.” It would make “unlawful discriminatory practice for an owner, operator, or provider of an interactive computer service to restrict, either directly, manually, or through the use of an algorithm, a user’s account or content based on race, sex, political ideology, or religious beliefs.”

In the long run, seeking to protect Americans free-speech rights via penalties for instances of abuse may be a more effective rout to ending Big Tech’s censorship abuse than pursuing trustbusting measures.

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