Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview Wednesday that America’s largest technology companies amount to a “growing threat to our democracy.”
Cruz, one of the Senate’s loudest big tech critics, spoke to Breitbart News after he sent a letter to United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, urging him to remove language that would enshrine Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) and U.S.-Japan trade agreement.
Breitbart News’s Allum Bokhari has detailed that Article 19.17 in the USMCA grants social media companies even broader legal immunity.
Cruz contended in his letter to Lighthizer that enshrining Section 230 in those trade agreements would be a “mistake” and block Congress from amending the law in the future.
Cruz serves as the chairman of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution, in which he has held many hearings chastising big tech censorship and its dominance on the Internet.
The Texas senator said that big tech’s censorship serves as a fundamental threat to America’s democratic system of government by stifling free speech on the Internet.
“Big tech’s power, bias, and censorship is profoundly dangerous, and it is a growing threat to our democracy,” Cruz said. “As chairman of the Constitution subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee, I have chaired multiple hearings focused on big tech bias and censorship. We’ve heard witness after witness testify; we’ve seen the evidence pile up of big tech silencing voices with which it disagrees. Shadow banning conservatives, shadow banning anyone who does not follow the political orthodoxy of a handful of big tech Silicon Valley billionaires.”
“What is new is the ability of big tech to silently disappear the voices of those with which they disagree and simultaneously and equally silently amplify the voices with which they agree, and there’s no transparency, there’s no accountability,” he added.
Cruz also warned that Google’s biased search algorithm could interfere in the 2020 elections. Professor Robert Epstein told the senator during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in July that Google could manipulate millions of voters into voting for Democrats during the 2020 election using their biased search engine.
“In 2020 — if all these companies are supporting the same candidate — there are 15 million votes on the line that can be shifted without people’s knowledge, and without leaving a paper trail for authorities to trace,” Epstein said.
Many conservatives and tech experts have attempted to figure out the best solution to address social media giants’ censorship on the Internet. Cruz said that it is a “complicated” question to answer because the solution would have to address social media censorship without creating a government free speech police. Cruz continues to explore all options on how to best address big tech censorship.
“What I have endeavored to do as a starting point is highlight and understand the scope of the problem. The remedy is tricky; nobody wants to see a federal government free speech police. That would be a terrible outcome that would inevitably be abused if it were simply Washington taking control,” Cruz said.
However, the Texas conservative said that there are three possible solutions to big tech censorship: amending Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, using antitrust against big tech, and policing big tech’s fraud and deception.
Section 230 grants technology companies such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter increased legal immunity to moderate content on their platforms to prevent frivolous lawsuits. Conservatives and many tech experts contend that Section 230 grants these social media platforms too much legal immunity, thus allowing them to censor conservative and alternative voices on the Internet without significant legal recourse.
The Texas senator said that Facebook, Twitter, Google, and other social media giants have abandoned the “understanding” that big tech platforms would be “neutral public fora,” or that they would “allow different voices to express their voices.”
Former Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Wireless Bureau Chief Fred Campbell has contended that big tech has “abused” Section 230 in ways Congress never intended.
In Section 230’s congressional findings, Congress found that the Internet should “offer a forum for a true diversity of political discourse, unique opportunities for cultural development, and myriad avenues for intellectual activity.”
“Big tech has decided to abandon neutrality and instead become an aggressive left-wing filter and if they’re going to engage in naked political bias, it seems to me there is no reason big tech should enjoy a congressionally granted immunity from liability that nobody else has,” Cruz added.
While the senator continues to explore potential solutions for solving big tech’s censorship, Cruz said he has met repeatedly with “officials in the administration at the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission, I’ve called for law enforcement, I’ve met with state law enforcement officials, and we’ll continue pressing for accountability for transparency and for protecting the free speech rights of Americans.”
Cruz ran an op-ed in the Hill, praising Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for preserving political speech on his platform. In contrast, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced that he would ban political ads on the social media giant.
The senator said that he believes this contrast serves an “incredibly important decision point in Silicon Valley” on the question of free speech on the Internet.
Cruz said that Dorsey’s banning of political ads on Twitter “is a terrible decision for free speech.”
The senator said that if “there are no political ads [on Twitter], that means that the only voices that will be allowed are incumbent politicians who naturally have big platforms; without paid ads it becomes incredibly difficult for a challenger to beat an incumbent. Number two, the mainstream media will have huge megaphones and others are silenced from view.”
Cruz said that Twitter’s banning of political ads will “silence the ability of anyone to speak.”
Cruz concluded, “Twitter’s political ad ban does not just extend to political candidates, it extends to individual citizens. If you want to speak on free speech, on religious liberty, on the Second Amendment, you want to speak on climate change, you want to speak on life, you want to speak on Israel, you can’t put out an ad on anything. Imagine if other media outlets did that, it would leave the only voices such as the mainstream media.”
Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.