State Sen. Brian Hughes (R-Texas) was interviewed by NTD on Tuesday about his recent endeavors to fight big tech censorship.
Hughes is working with Texas Governor Greg Abbott and state legislators on a bill to prevent big tech companies from taking action to moderate user content based on political viewpoints.
Hughes said that he believes having vigorous free dialogue on social media is very important. He described it as the new public square since people now have limited access to physical public squares.
“Right now we have an oligarchy, we have a small group of people in San Francisco who want to control everyone’s speech. That’s why this is so important,” said Hughes.
In order to hold the tech giants accountable, the bill would allow citizens legal recourse if they are de-platformed or censored.
According to the bill, anyone in Texas who has their First Amendment rights violated by big tech companies can go to court and request a declaratory judgement. Then the person can demonstrate how they have been discriminated against and subsequently obtain an order to allow them to get back online.
“If you’re in Texas and you’re punished for your speech, this gives you the chance to go immediately to court and show the judge what’s happening and get a declaratory judgement and in order for them to put you back online. It should be a quick process and a process available to every Texan,” Hughes said.
“When every Texan who’s being punished by Big Tech just for their views, when every Texan has the right to do this, we think this is going to get their attention from all across Texas.”
Hughes is very optimistic in regards to the bill. He said that their team is very strong and sharp, and is prepared to take the fight to court.
“We know we’re going to be sued if we pass this bill. Facebook is going to take us to court. Facebook and Google and Twitter have armies of lawyers and lobbyists who will be fighting us on this. But we’re on the right side, the law is on our side. Yes, we expect to see this bill passed, put in place, and protecting Texans’ free speech,” Hughes said.
Hughes said that this problem “cries out for a federal solution,” but that they can’t wait for it. He believes this bill will thread the needle to get past federal limitations and will serve as a model for other states to do the same.
The Florida legislature is also working on a new measure to penalize technology companies that de-platform a candidate during an election. They will face a daily fine of $100,000 until the candidate’s access to the platform is restored.
The bill will also empower the Florida Attorney General to bring action against big tech companies under Florida’s Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act if they violate the new policies laid out in the bill.
“Floridians should have the privacy of their data and personal information protected, their ability to access and participate in online platforms protected, and their ability to participate in elections free from interference from big tech protected,” said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Masooma Haq contributed to this report.