House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) released a framework Wednesday designed to rein in big tech’s anticompetitive practices and combat big tech censorship.
“The Trump Administration wisely commenced antitrust action against Google last October, but more can be done and Congressional action is warranted,” the Republican leaders wrote in a press release. “For the sake of preserving free speech and a free economy, it’s time Big Tech faces the music. House Republicans are ready to lead.”
The Republican leaders released their antitrust and free speech framework as House Democrats unveiled a series of bills that would empower the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and other methods to break up big tech and curb Silicon Valley’s enormous influence. Jordan is the House Judiciary Committee ranking member, and McMorris Rodgers is the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Republicans, including Jordan, have criticized the proposals for not addressing conservative censorship. The Democrat proposals would also empower FTC Chairman Lina Khan.
Jordan said in June that Khan’s leftist beliefs would not likely result in the breakup of big tech, nor would it address big tech censorship.
“These bills give power to the FTC, the new commissioner we all know is radically left. I don’t really think it breaks up big tech, and I don’t think it gives a remedy to people who are censored,” Jordan said.
Jordan and former Donald Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows said in June:
The newly named chair of the Federal Trade Commission, Lina Khan, previously worked for impeachment managers Jerry Nadler and David Cicilline as counsel on the House Judiciary Committee. There, Khan helped to lead the Democrat effort to develop these bills. Prior to working for Nadler and Cicilline, Khan was the legal director at the Open Markets Institute, a far-left think tank founded by George Soros. Although a third Democrat commissioner has yet to be announced, you can be sure Biden’s nominee has never been to a Trump rally.
The Republican leaders’ proposal would focus on three principles: accountability, transparency, and empowering state attorneys to use antitrust against big tech.
McCarthy, Jordan, and McMorris Rodgers wrote that their proposal would update Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to limit big tech’s ability to curb free speech. They explained:
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act would be changed to limit liability protections for moderation of speech that is not protected by the First Amendment and would preclude Big Tech from discriminating against Americans based on their political affiliation. We would also require regular reauthorization of Section 230 so Congress may update regulations of the constantly-evolving internet landscape.
They continued, noting that requiring big tech companies to disclose and define their “vague” terms of service would empower free speech across the internet:
Our framework would empower Americans by ending Big Tech’s ability to hide behind vague terms of service that have not constrained their conduct in any meaningful way. We will do so by mandating that any Big Tech content moderation decisions or censorship must be listed, with specificity, on a publicly available website. In addition, by requiring Big Tech to implement and maintain a reasonable user-friendly appeals process, our plan will empower conservatives and others whose speech rights have been infringed to challenge Big Tech’s attacks.
Former Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai wrote that the country might need to consider applying “transparency” standards to internet platforms such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter.
The Republicans’ third platform would empower state attorneys general to combat big tech’s allegedly anticompetitive practices:
We will provide an expedited court process with direct appeal to the Supreme Court and empower state attorneys general to help lead the charge against the tech giants to break them up. We will also reform the administrative state and remove impediments that delay taking action on Big Tech power.
To this point, House Democrats have advanced a plan that not only ignores addressing conservative censorship, it makes it worse. And their plan empowers a federal bureaucracy with no accountability.
“I have more faith in elected state leaders than in the unelected federal bureaucracy, which is as ideologically homogeneous as Big Tech. In other words, I think our former colleague Jeff Landry will more effectively prosecute anti-competitive behavior than Lina Khan,” the Republicans contended.
The Republicans noted their proposal would address free speech, unlike the Democrats’ antitrust proposal.
“Conservatives and our ideas have been targeted by Big Tech for too long,” McCarthy, Jordan, and McMorris wrote. “We must step up because make no mistake, the Democrats continue to demonstrate no interest in addressing fairness when it comes to conservative viewpoints. And they’ll continue to use Big Tech to do so.”
Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.