A Republican politician in the United States House of Representatives has launched a new bill aimed at stopping online censorship.
The new bill introduced by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) will remove the benefits that allow Silicon Valley companies like Facebook to restrain speech regarding politics and other subjects without punishment.
The legislation will modify Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Section 230 of this Act presently allows tech platforms to suppress material and data that they consider to be “obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.”
The new bill will extinguish Section 230 in its current form and replace it with a framework that gives tech companies certain immunities in exchange for granting users the capability to block or filter material and speech.
The certain immunities which the tech companies currently have include complete exemption from traditional publisher liability. In other words, they can’t be punished for defamation or other material uploaded by users on their platforms.
This modification will stop the major tech platforms from removing, suppressing, shadow banning, prioritizing or blocking content. Instead, tech platforms will be forced to give this capability to their users. Therefore, users will have the ability to decide what they want to see and what they don’t want to see.
Rep. Gosar’s outlined his reasons for introducing the bill today. He is irritated by the big tech platforms because they are censoring conservative speech and content. For Gosar, the censorship and bias against conservatives could represent a threat to freedom of speech, the free market, and the democratic process.
Gosar also believes there is a double standard at play. He is annoyed that the big tech companies can claim to have no liability when it comes to the content that users post on their platforms due to their status as “publishers.” However, they can also remove, suppress or prioritize content as they choose this makes the platforms editors, not publishers.
Here is Rep. Gosar full statement today:
“The Stop The Censorship Act revokes unprecedented immunities given to Big Tech for censorship of ‘objectionable’ material but retains immunities when acting in good faith to remove unlawful content or providing users the option to filter: i.e, Twitter’s Quality Filter”
“Big Tech has demonstrated a clear bias against conservatives and censorship represents an existential threat to free speech, free markets, and free elections.”
“Big Tech has been given blanket immunity by section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. They claim a ‘platform’s discretion for removing content but claim ‘publishers’ aren’t liable when they monetize their users’ content”
“Despite their claims, Big Tech does not always foreclose on violent/obscene behavior; in fact, they often monetize it-but they do police political speech. Big Tech’s immunity should strictly be for good faith efforts to remove actual unlawful material.”
“Stop The Censorship Act facilitates the option for a self-imposed safe space, or unfettered free speech, whichever the user chooses. Currently, the only content moderation options are versions of whatever material Big Tech wants you to see.”
“[The Act] ensures that there is no use of presumed ‘public’ desire not to be exposed to ‘objectionable’ material to justify the suppression of supposedly ‘objectionable’ political speech.”