- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 26, 2021

The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s top Republican is circulating a plan for GOP representatives to work with Democrats to limit the legal liability protections extended to tech platforms for content posted by users. 

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers has developed a “Big Tech Accountability Platform” that would scrap the liability protections contained in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act or develop a timeline under which the protections would end, as a “legislative starting point.”

“To avoid congressional action, Big Tech hides behind groups of their own creation and relies on philosopher-academics who claim righteousness on what the “proper” interpretation of “the 26 words that created the Internet” [are],” wrote Ms. McMorris Rodgers in a memo to her GOP colleagues. “To stop this evasion and their stall tactics, I recommend we work with House Democrats and the Senate to reach an agreement in an upcoming legislative vehicle to sunset or establish a reauthorization date for Section 230.” 

Ms. McMorris Rodgers’ platform lists its guiding principles as increasing transparency, enhancing oversight and accountability, pushing for consistency and objectivity, and examining competition issues.

The Washington Republican proposes to make this happen through a variety of tools and oversight measures, including requiring disclosures from Big Tech companies about how they develop content moderation decisions. 

The proposal also makes clear that the growing motivation to crack down on Big Tech is directly tied to the decision of several dominant tech companies and social media platforms to banish former President Trump online while he remained in office.

Twitter permanently suspended Mr. Trump from its platform while Facebook applied an indefinite blockade and others enacted similar blockades such as Google-owned YouTube. 

“Big Tech’s recent move to permanently ban President Trump should concern us all, and such action has been widely criticized by other world leaders,” wrote Ms. McMorris Rodgers. “In a country where we cherish free speech, it should alarm every American—Democrat and Republican alike—to see Big Tech ban the Leader of the Free World with no accountability. If Big Tech can silence a sitting United States President with the support of most of the media and our elite institutions, they can silence anyone else for having unpopular opinions.”

Ms. McMorris Rodgers’ memo said her staff would survey all energy and commerce committee Republicans to better understand their views on her proposal, and she listed her proposal as one of her top priorities for the committee. 

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