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New GOP bill would block gov’t censorship partnerships with big tech

The U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. (Dreamstime/TNS)
December 07, 2022

House Republicans have introduced a new bill aimed at keeping the federal government from using social media companies to censor Americans by encouraging them to moderate so-called “misinformation.” 

Managing misinformation has been a Democratic Party priority for several years amid Republican backlash that the efforts provide cover for censoring unfavored speech. Programs to monitor and manipulate online discussion are expanding within the government, with the FBI facing an accusation from Twitter CEO Elon Musk that its work with the company ahead of the 2020 election was “the very definition of election interference.”

The new bill countering some of that, called the Free Speech Defense Act, was introduced Wednesday by Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) and co-sponsored by 10 other representatives, the Daily Caller first reported

The bill would ban the U.S. government from prodding social media companies to remove or suspend users, label the truthfulness of content, or share user data without a warrant. 

The bill would also prohibit any future government entity like the much-ridiculed Disinformation Governance Board, a short-lived product of President Joe Biden’s administration that worked against homeland-security-related disinformation but was widely criticized as a potential vehicle for partisan suppression.

Other provisions in the bill respond to revelations that Facebook gave out $15 million in free ad spending to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to spread its COVID-19 messaging. It would strengthen regulations against federal employees accepting no-cost services from social media companies.

Also included in the Free Speech Defense Act is allowance to take the government to court over violations and a required annual report on the government’s compliance with it, the Daily Caller reported.

“By using social media companies like Facebook and Twitter as private sector proxies to carry out its bidding, the federal government is brazenly infringing on Americans’ civil liberties and dangerously violating our Constitution,” said Clyde. “My legislation will bring an end to the government-by-proxy censorship that is tarnishing the bedrock of our nation and unjustly depriving Americans of their First Amendment freedoms.”