Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.) unveiled legislation that would require big tech companies to adhere to the “First Amendment standard for their content moderation practices.” The bill would limit the immunity the companies have when they restrict speech or censor certain content, allowing for more accountability.
The Curbing Abuse and Saving Expression In Technology Act, or the CASE-IT Act, which would amend Section 230 of the Communications Act of 1934, aims to allow free speech online while protecting minors from inappropriate and unsafe content.
The bill seeks to limit the power big tech CEOs have in deciding which content is not favorable or true.
“Unelected big tech CEOs should not be able to abuse the protections granted to them by Section 230 to block speech and withhold information from the public, just because it doesn’t suit their political beliefs,” Steube said. “Their censorship has gone beyond simply acting as publishers and has reached the point of active and intentional election interference. They will be held accountable.”
The Trump administration has been vocal about the need to change Section 230 in order to force internet companies to manage and moderate content on their platforms responsibly and fairly, and has accused online platforms such as Facebook and Twitter of engaging in censorship of certain viewpoints.
Steube’s Republican colleagues in the Senate have also been outspoken about the restrictions conservatives face on various social media platforms. The Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing on Oct. 28 to question big tech CEOs about how they curate their content.
‘Arbiters of What Is True’
During the hearing, Committee Chairman Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) said in his opening statement that he’s concerned these platforms have “become powerful arbiters of what is true and what content users can access.” He rejected the notion that any criticism was due to partisan politics.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) also grilled the CEOs on Wednesday and penned an op-ed in which he said tech bosses made false claims about not restricting conservatives on their platforms.
“Just this week, Twitter suspended U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan for 20 hours for updating the American people on the construction of the southern border wall,” Lee wrote. “Each of these big tech CEOs has made public statements claiming to operate his company without political bias. Clearly, that is false.”
Lee also criticized the companies for restricting other conservative content such as pro-life groups.
Lee wrote: “On Wednesday I had an opportunity to ask the CEOs of Facebook, Google, and Twitter to name one example of their companies suppressing a high-profile liberal person or group, including pro-abortion groups like Planned Parenthood, NARAL, or Emily’s List.
“The Twitter and Facebook CEOs completely failed to name one example.”
Twitter and Facebook did not immediately return requests for comment.
President Donald Trump has often floated the idea of repealing Section 230 protections altogether.
“If big tech persists, in coordination with the mainstream media, we must immediately strip them of their Section 230 protections,” Trump said in an Oct. 15 Twitter post. “When the government granted these protections, they created a monster!”
Bowen Xiao contributed to this report.