Exclusive– Marsha Blackburn: ‘Yes,’ Social Media Companies Need Regulation

Representative Marsha Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee, during the South Carolina Freedom Summit hosted by Citizens United and Congressman Jeff Duncan in Greenville, South Carolina, U.S., on Saturday, May 9, 2015. The Freedom Summit brings grassroots activists from across South Carolina and the surrounding area to hear from conservative leaders …
Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview on Friday that social media companies need regulation regarding their privacy practices as well as censorship of conservative and alternative voices on the Internet.

Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn told Breitbart News that she continues to have productive conversations with House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) as well as Congressman Bob Latta (R-OH), the chairman of the Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee, regarding future legislation that would impact social companies such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter.

“Yes, we have had some good conservations this week. Chairman Walden and I have had some good conversations about how we move forward as well as with Congressman Latta,” Blackburn told Breitbart News.

“We are focused on making certain that we look at these violations and make certain that we schedule the proper oversight and proper hearings; we want to be certain that they don’t censor conservatives,” Blackburn added.

The Tennessee representative continued, saying that when you “look at the whole thing holistically and with these social media outlets, they are monetizing, using, and benefitting from your information without your knowledge, without your consent, without your awareness, then the question, the question is: do they need to face some form of regulation? The answer is yes.”

Breitbart News reported this week that two months before Facebook announced its plan to publish exclusive content from mainstream media outlets, its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, told Congress that Facebook is not a publisher. Facebook acting as a publisher of news could suggest that that the social media falls outside the legal immunity inside Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, otherwise known as “Safe Harbor.”

Former Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Wireless Bureau Chief Fred Campbell contended in an exclusive interview with Breitbart News in April that Congress should repeal the Safe Harbor provision. Campbell said that Section 230 allows for Google and Facebook to censor at will.

Campbell said, “Here’s the real problem with Section 230: it empowers these Internet platforms to censor content while removing any accountability for their publications. The Constitution has always protected an individual’s right to defend themselves against libel or slander.”

“Section 230 overrides the common law and says that these Internet platforms can censor all they want and won’t be accountable for anything — for libel or any other falsehoods,” Campbell added.

In a new report, as many as 14 million Facebook users may have had their private data exposed through a software bug.

Congressman Blackburn, who is running for the U.S. Senate, said that these scandals underscore the need for data privacy legislation.

“There needs to be privacy and data security legislation to protect an individual’s privacy so that the right to privacy, so that someone cannot share or someone can have access to their information,” Blackburn told Breitbart News. “Every industrial sector, whether it is your broker, your banker, or your healthcare provider, has privacy regulations, and they cannot benefit from using that data. The one sector that does not have that is your social media, the edge provider.”

Blackburn then suggested that Facebook and Google’s subjective algorithms, as well their move to hire thousands of content managers has led to Silicon Valley’s rampant censorship of conservative and alternative voices. Hungarian Identarian leader Abel Bodi was suspended from Facebook on Thursday for sharing a Breitbart London article that reported on his detainment and deportation from the United Kingdom this year.

Rep. Blackburn even had one of her campaign ads blocked on Twitter last October, in which she touted her pro-life beliefs and her opposition to selling baby parts.

Blackburn continued:

You’ve got Facebook Twitter and YouTube and they employ thousands of content managers and content monitors and those are people that live in California, and maybe have a more liberal bent, and they are subjective in how they manipulate those algorithms. That was my question to Zuckerberg: “Do you subjectively manipulate your algorithm to prioritize, to throttle, or block specific content?” His response referenced terrorism, and as I pointed out, Diamond and Silk were blocked, and they were not involved in terrorism.

The Senate passed a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution in May, that if signed by President Donald Trump, would restore the Obama-era net neutrality regulations. Blackburn said that vote emphasizes the need for net neutrality legislation that codifies the principles of a free and open Internet and establishes one set of rules for Internet Service providers (ISPs) and edge providers such as Facebook and Google.

Blackburn explained:

It says that we are not going to put the Internet under the 1934 Ma Bell rules. The 21st century Internet needs 21st-century rules. It also points out that the American people agree with us that you need one set of rules for the entire Internet ecosystem, whether it’s your Internet service provider, or your edge provider, to govern your privacy, to have your notification for data security for data breaches things of that nature. We are working to push forward the Open Internet Preservation Act that would codify no block, no throttle, and we will set prioritization aside for a deeper dive and that’s the reason why.

At a rally in May, President Trump slammed Blackburn’s Democratic opponent, former Gov. Phil Bredesen, labeling him an ally of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

Trump said, “So Marsha’s very liberal Democrat opponent, Phil Bredesen, I never heard of this guy, who is he. He’s an absolute total tool of Chuck Schumer.” 

Blackburn told Breitbart News that a Democrat-controlled Senate “will be the end of conservative judges, it is going to be the end of pro-life, pro-family religious liberty legislation, it is going to be the end of tax cuts.”

“Chuck Schumer has said that Phil Bredesen is his top recruit and that his road to the Senate Majority Leader runs through Tennessee,” Rep. Blackburn added.

Instead of Phil Bredesen, Blackburn said that Tennesseans “want to have conservative judges, they want more tax cuts, and we are going to get them turned out. The blue wave is going to run through a great red wall in Tennessee.”


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