Rebooting Big Tech – here's how we start chipping away at their unlimited power
By U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)
June 24, 2021
Today, America stands at a dangerous impasse. Big Tech has usurped what are essentially authoritarian powers -- the power to decide what you’re allowed to see, what you’re allowed to post, and with whom you’re allowed to share.
Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Twitter all have the power to wipe you off the face of the Earth. They have repeatedly demonstrated their willingness to ban and censor users espousing beliefs they consider conservative, or ones that otherwise dissent from the far-left echo chambers now ubiquitous online.
Big Tech has destroyed countless reputations, openly interfered in our elections in favor of Democrat candidates, and baselessly censored important topics in our national discourse. How do they get away with it?
The answer is Section 230. When lawmakers first wrote Section 230 of the Communications and Decency Act in 1996—the same year the Palm Pilot was introduced to the world and a year before Google was even founded—Congress wanted internet companies to be able to host third-party content and engage in targeted moderation of the worst content without being responsible for what was written by others...
But since the bill’s passage 25 years ago, the once scrappy internet companies that benefited from Section 230’s protections have transformed into monopolistic titans. Their mission changed, too. Today’s tech giants use opaque algorithms, unaccountable moderating teams, and so called "fact checkers" to manipulate America’s discourse to their worldview.
Section 230 gives these companies immunity from nearly all liability—a privilege no other industry enjoys.
The result is a profoundly diseased public square. That’s why, this week, I introduced my DISCOURSE Act, which would modernize and limit the immunity granted to tech firms by Section 230 and inject long overdue accountability into the industry. To start, my bill would strip liability protection for firms that fail to comply with existing obligations, such as informing users of screening options and parental screens.
Under Section 230 as it is written today, Big Tech firms are able to get away with censoring Americans on the exceedingly vague basis of content being "otherwise objectionable." My bill would dump that unacceptably vague language and replace it with concrete categories, like "promoting terrorism."
My legislation also includes a religious liberty clause, stating explicitly that Section 230 doesn’t extend liability protection to decisions that restrict content for its religious nature...
Most importantly, my bill would broaden the scope of practices that make a company liable for content on their platform. Specifically, the DISCOURSE Act would remove protections for firms that engage in... destructive behaviors...
Today, a group of unelected, anonymous, and unaccountable people now have the power to determine what can and can’t be said in day-to-day online conversation...
Now, Congress must pass the DISCOURSE Act, so we can hold Big Tech accountable and make sure our laws reflect the realities of the present.
Our democracy depends on it.
Read the rest here.