WASHINGTON — On Wednesday, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) introduced the “Limiting Section 230 to Good Samaritans Act,” a bill that would open up Big Tech platforms to civil liability for unfairly censoring the speech of users. Hawley was joined by four Republican cosponsors: Sens. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.).
American Principles Project (APP) has been a leading conservative voice advocating for reforming Section 230 in order to rein in Big Tech censorship, and recently released a similar legislative plan to do so, “Protecting Free Speech and Defending Kids.”
Following the introduction of Sen. Hawley’s legislation, Jon Schweppe, APP’s director of policy and government affairs and co-author of the APP plan, released the following statement supporting the Republican bill:
This bill is a game changer. Senator Hawley deserves a great deal of credit — he got the ball rolling last year with one of the first conservative proposals to condition Section 230 immunity for Big Tech platforms. It’s not an exaggeration to say that, at the time, Hawley more or less stood alone. But now, as Big Tech platforms continue to overreach and suppress free speech, a legitimate coalition is beginning to take shape. The winds are shifting, and Big Tech should be very worried.
Craig Parshall, a civil liberties attorney and Special Counsel at American Center for Law & Justice, as well as co-author of “Protecting Free Speech and Defending Kids”, also released the following statement:
This bill puts teeth into the ‘Good Samaritan’ obligation that Congress intended for Section 230 decades ago as a condition of Big Tech companies escaping liability from civil lawsuits. Up until now, both the ‘Good Samaritan’ concept and the requirement of ‘good faith’ have either been ignored by the courts or reduced to a dead letter by judicial misinterpretation that consistently gives the benefit of the doubt to Silicon Valley.
This legislation signals clearly that the era of an ungoverned ‘Wild West’ version of the Internet is drawing to a close. Monopolistic platforms with their chokehold grip over online expression have made billions by distributing the content, information and viewpoints supplied by the American people, all the while blocking and suppressing disfavored opinions at will, and without consequences. If this bill passes, citizens will finally have access to the courts against Big Tech companies that permit content that harms or defames them. Users who are deliberately blocked, downranked, or demonetized can obtain a judicial remedy.
Even further, a Big Tech platform can no longer simply blame its algorithms for its unfair treatment of its users when it should have known that its coding systems are designed to treat users discriminatorily. By giving Internet users their day in court, this bill is a positive step toward creating a new landscape of online free speech.
To schedule an interview with an APP policy expert, contact Paul Dupont at (o) 202-503-2010 or firstname.lastname@example.org.