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Big Tech’s liability shield under fire yet again from Republicans

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The Stop the Censorship Act is, uhhh, a thing that exists

Oversight and Reform Committee Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

The populist wing of the Republican party introduced yet another bill to remove the tech industry’s largest liability shield last week.

The Stop the Censorship Act, sponsored by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), would strike language in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that allows platforms to moderate content they deem as “objectionable.” Gosar argues that this language makes it easy for platforms like Facebook and Twitter to remove content grounded in conservative ideology, a Republican censorship theory that has yet to be proven outside of individual remarks made by Big Tech “whistleblowers” like what we’ve seen from organizations like Project Veritas.

The act proposes that that wording in the section be replaced with new language allowing users to facilitate “the option for a self-imposed safe space, or unfettered free speech, whichever the user chooses,” Gosar said. Basically, it would allow users to decide whether they’d prefer to see “objectionable” content or not by turning on features like Google’s SafeSearch or Twitter’s Quality Filter.

If approved, Section 230 protections would remain in place for “unlawful material.”

The bill is sponsored by three members of the House Freedom Caucus, including Gosar, Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Ralph Norman (R-SC). Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who has come under intense scrutiny for purporting white nationalist beliefs and making racist remarks over the past few years, has also signed on to the measure.

Gosar’s legislation is part of a growing movement on the right targeting tech companies for allegedly censoring conservatives. Earlier this summer, freshman senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) introduced a bill that removed 230 protections from giant tech firms unless they proved that they were unbiased by submitting audits to the Federal Trade Commission.

The Trump administration has also taken a strong stance against Big Tech’s content moderation, inviting dozens of right-wing pundits and media figures to the White House to discuss this alleged bias earlier this month.