By Casey Harper (The Center Square)
A key Republican lawmaker in the US House of Representatives has filed new legislation that would ban federal employees from working with big tech companies to censor Americans.
The bill comes as ongoing reports show that federal law enforcement and the White House regularly interact with social media companies like Facebook and Twitter, pressuring the companies to remove posts and accounts on a range of issues, including questioning the COVID-19 vaccine.
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“The deal between bureaucrats and Big Tech has been going on for a long time. Government agencies should not censor Americans’ free speech,” said Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who helps lead the effort. And that’s an important first step toward accountability.”
The bill prevents federal officials from using their influence or authority — including through contracting, grantmaking, rulemaking, licensing, permitting, investigative or enforcement actions — to encourage censorship of lawful speech or to encourage the censorship of speech by a third party or private entity.
For violators, the bill would use the same penalties for violations of the Hatch Act, which include removal, fines or reductions in wages. The bill singles out high-level officials, prohibiting them from personally advocating for this type of censorship.
The House now has a Republican majority, emboldening those lawmakers. However, his legislation will still have a tough time in a divided Senate and faces a potential veto from President Joe Biden.
That legislation could provide a window into what action Republicans will take if they win the White House and Senate in 2024.
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“The actions taken by the Biden administration to pressure Big Tech to censor content online is an attack on our fundamental right to freedom,” said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash. “It’s time for this behavior to end.”
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The legislative proposal comes alongside an investigation by the House Oversight Committee, which is digging into federal law enforcement and the White House’s work with these companies.
One particular instance of censorship has been gathering opposition to tech companies controlling information on their platforms.
Billionaire and Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk has authorized a series of document dumps called the “Twitter Files” that have helped reveal more details about the tech companies’ collusion with federal law enforcement and the Democratic Party behind the scenes to censor the Hunter Biden laptop story. Before the 2020 elections.
So far, the “Twitter Files” have included internal communications between top Twitter executives, the Biden administration and federal law enforcement.
Last year, an oversight committee launched an investigation into the Department of Homeland Security after news broke that Facebook had an online portal where federal law enforcement could flag content it wanted removed. The Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency reportedly relies heavily on the portal, flagging posts for removal.
“This effort began after CISA partnered with left-leaning organizations and big tech companies to launch the Election Integrity Partnership,” the House Oversight Committee said in its letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. “The EIP provides an online complaint-processing platform that allows groups — including the Democratic National Committee in at least four cases — to submit ‘ticket’ report narratives they’ve flagged for concern.
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‘Tickets’ are often resolved by taking one of several actions: 1) banning the user from posting his or her legitimate speech or banning the person from the platform entirely, 2) algorithmically restricting the range of speech on the platform, or 3) adding other information to the post, such as a warning label, that the post is unsolicited. Alerts users to the status,” the letter added.
The White House downplayed the portal, but former press secretary Jen Psaki acknowledged the White House’s hand in controlling the information.
“We are in regular contact with social media platforms and those engagements are usually through our senior staff and members of our COVID-19 team,” said Dr. As Murthy points out, this is a particularly big problem with misinformation about the pandemic. ,” Psaki said at a press conference in July of last year, as US Surgeon General Dr. Quoting Vivek Murthy, he said.
Syndicated with permission from The Center Square.