Republicans in the House of Representatives passed a bill that aims to ban federal officials from pressuring social media companies to censor content. The Protecting Speech From Government Interference Act passed along a party line, with a 219 to 216 vote.
We obtained a copy of the bill for you here.
The bill bans “federal employees From advocating for censorship of viewpoints in their official capacity,” including recommending to a third party to “take any action to censor speech.”
Republicans’ claims of collusion were intensified by the revelations of the Twitter Files, internal documents released by Twitter owner Elon Musk through independent journalists, that detailed the platform’s history of censorship under the previous management.
Among other things, the Twitter Files revealed that the FBI and other federal agencies were in constant communication with Twitter executives to censor content.
During a debate on the bill last Wednesday, the lead sponsor of the bill, Rep. James Comer (R-KY), who chairs the Oversight and Reform Committee, said, “My bill, the Protecting Speech from Government Interference Act, makes this type of behavior an unlawful activity for federal officials to engage in – subjecting those who attempt to censor the lawful speech of Americans to disciplinary actions and monetary penalties,” he continued. “The federal government should not be able to decide what lawful speech is allowed – we have the First Amendment for a very good reason.”
Several amendments to the bill were approved. The lawmakers approved an amendment that would prohibit law enforcement and social media companies from sharing information unless it is speech that is not protected by the First Amendment, such as incitement to unlawful action, obscenity, and fraud.
The amendment would also exempt federal employees’ actions aimed at “exercising legitimate law enforcement functions directly related to activities to combat child pornography, human trafficking, or the illegal transporting of or transacting in controlled substances and safeguarding, or preventing, the unlawful dissemination of properly classified national security information.”
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