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Rubio Introduces Bill to Require Big Tech Disclosure of Government Censorship Requests

Jul 28, 2021 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced legislation to combat the censorship coordination between big tech companies and governments across the globe, including the Biden Administration. The PRESERVE Online Speech Act comes after White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki acknowledged that the White House is “flagging problematic posts” for social media companies. Rubio’s legislation, which he announced in an opinion piece this morning on Fox News, would require technology companies to disclose any U.S. or foreign government requests or recommendations regarding content moderation. Senators Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Rick Scott (R-FL), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), and Ron Johnson (R-WI) are original cosponsors of the legislation. 
“Americans should know when governments – especially their own – request or pressure internet companies to censor legal speech,” Rubio said. “But while transparency is critical, it alone will not change the poisonous role that Big Tech and social media corporations are playing in our national politics. That is why I also introduced the DISCOURSE Act, which would strip Section 230 protections from large tech companies that drop the pretense of neutrality by censoring specific viewpoints or creating and developing content, including through algorithmic amplification. We need to step up to the plate to stop Silicon Valley-Democrat collusion before it’s too late.”
“If the federal government is attempting to end-run the Constitution by secretly working with tech platforms to censor Americans’ speech, then the American people deserve to know, which is why I’m pleased to co-sponsor Senator Rubio’s legislation,” Hagerty said. “Requiring transparency will ensure that the government cannot work secretly to censor Americans.”
“We already know that Big Tech companies pick and choose which viewpoints are allowed on their platforms, and now the Biden administration expressed their willingness to help them censor the American people,” Scott said. “That’s unacceptable. The federal government’s role should be to promote free speech of the American people, as protected by our Constitution, not limit it. This bill will hold Big Tech accountable and protect Americans’ rights.”
“The First Amendment protects our citizens from governmental interference of their free speech. When private companies work with the government to suppress free speech, those companies become an agent of the government and public trust in government institutions is diminished,” Lummis said. “As such, the American people are entitled to, at a minimum, certain public disclosures that we expect from official entities about the extent of their actions, and I’m proud to work with my colleagues Senators Marco Rubio, Rick Scott, and Bill Hagerty to address big tech’s alarming complicity with the U.S. government.”
“It is outrageous the Biden administration is coordinating with Big Tech to infringe on American citizens’ First Amendment freedoms,” Johnson said. “Big Tech, the mainstream media and the Administration have no credibility in determining what is and isn’t misinformation. I’m pleased to co-sponsor Senator Rubio’s legislation that will shed light on the Biden administration’s attempt to censor Americans free speech.”
Specifically, the Preventing Restrictions and Empowering Speakers to Enable Robust and Varied Exchanges in (PRESERVE) Online Speech Act would: 

  • Require internet companies to publicly disclose within seven days any government (U.S. or foreign) request to moderate content outside of a law enforcement proceeding, and detail any action that was taken as a result. 
  • Levy a daily fine of $50,000 on non-compliant firms. These funds are directed to the FCC to provide rural broadband access.
  • Require the FCC to submit an annual report to congress covering all government censorship requests that year and actions taken as a result.