WASHINGTON — Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) introduced new legislation this week which would encourage Big Tech companies to adhere to First Amendment principles while stripping away those companies’ immunity from civil liability if they do not take reasonable steps to prevent illegal activity from occurring on their platforms.
The “Stopping Big Tech Censorship Act” is the second Republican Senate bill introduced this month aimed at amending Section 230, the statute which currently gives Big Tech platforms their immunity. Last week, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) introduced legislation to open up Big Tech to civil liability for unfairly censoring the speech of users. Sen. Loeffler was also a cosponsor of that bill.
American Principles Project (APP) has been a leading conservative voice advocating for an amendment to Section 230 in order to rein in Big Tech censorship and protect kids online. Earlier this month, the organization released a legislative plan, “Protecting Free Speech and Defending Kids,” to accomplish this goal.
Following the introduction of Sen. Loeffler’s bill, Jon Schweppe, APP’s director of policy and government affairs and co-author of the APP plan, released a statement in support of the legislation:
Kudos to Senator Loeffler, who is taking the fight against Big Tech very seriously. Not only did she sign on to Senator Hawley’s ‘Limiting Section 230 to Good Samaritans Act’ last week, but she’s now out with her own plan to reform Section 230. Conservatives are looking for leadership, innovation, and creativity on this issue, and it’s wonderful to see Loeffler playing a critical role in this debate.
Loeffler’s bill is important for two reasons: first and foremost, it prevents Section 230 from insulating criminal actors from civil liability. Victims of crime should have the right to sue when a platform breaks the law, or when a platform aids and abets lawbreakers. And Loeffler isn’t messing around here — this is some of the strongest language we’ve seen on this issue to date. The federal government shouldn’t be providing immunity to criminals while denying justice to their victims.
Second, Loeffler’s bill encourages Big Tech companies to adhere to First Amendment principles with regard to speech on their platforms. This bill would provide a path forward for users to challenge the companies’ Section 230 immunity if they choose to censor speech that would be otherwise protected by the First Amendment in the public square.
Two great bills in two weeks — again, as this coalition grows and begins to take shape, Big Tech companies 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:
Senator Kelly Loeffler’s bill is just more proof of two things: First, that the days when Big Tech monopolies can arbitrarily crush opinions they don’t like are numbered, and second, that the only reliable standards that should govern Silicon Valley’s content moderation decisions are the tried-and-true Free Speech values of the First Amendment.
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