House Republicans Have A Big Tech Plan... That Is Both Unconstitutional And Ridiculous

from the oh-come-on dept

Republicans have spent decades holding themselves out as the party of "small government" and "keeping government out of business," while also claiming to be strict supporters of an originalist interpretation of the Constitution. The reality, of course, is something altogether different. Even as Republican politicians often pay lips service to these claims, their policy ideas show the opposite. The top Republican on the House Energy & Commerce Committee has announced the GOP's "Big Tech Accountability Platform" that has an astounding level of government interference not just into business, but into the 1st Amendment rights of all Americans.

The full plan is somewhat astounding (I don't know why it's showing sideways, but I guess download it and rotate it). It opens by paying lip service to the idea of the 1st Amendment, and the value of "more speech" over suppressing speech. But then immediately seeks to undermine the 1st Amendment by suggesting that internet companies should be compelled to host speech they disagree with. It falsely suggests that the decision to suspend President Trump's account was an attack on his conservative views, and not his efforts to incite his supporters into overturning the election. It includes a section on giving law enforcement more access to content and forcing tech companies to become an arm of law enforcement. It (of course!) has a section on protecting "our children."

The whole thing is a censor's dream.

Of course, the GOP has no real power in Congress, especially in the House right now, but that could change quite a bit over the next few years, so we should take these proposals seriously. The key parts of the plan are here:

We could go through piece by piece and explain how these issues are misleading, wrong, silly, or pointless, but I'm sure we'll have plenty of chances to address each point as they start showing up in various bills.

What is clear, however, is that most of this policy is not about any principled stands the GOP may have. Most of it is about spite.

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Filed Under: 1st amendment, cathy mcmorris rodgers, censorship, content moderation, for the children, gop, responsibility, section 230, transparency

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Jan 2021 @ 3:18pm

    Re: Someday

    Anyone think we might Need a bill of rights and requirements from CORPS?

    This. The Bill of Rights is pointless if there's a giant loophole for the government to abuse in it. As it stands CORPS have more power to effect the lives of citizens than the government, (By directly refusing them employment, one sided contracts, forced opt-out of the legal system, Right to Contract trumping everything else, etc.) with none of the responsibility or the protections against them. They are a third-party that gets to straddle the line between government and person the same way that digital goods get to straddle the line between "sold" and "leased." I.e. What ever allows them to win.

    If the government wants your data, no need to ask you, just go to the CORPS with the All-Writs act. Need to silence someone? File a bunch of DMCA takedown requests, send a few NSA letters, etc. Does the government need protection from liability? Just claim it was a private company's decision protected by their first-amendment rights. Need legal protections for your business model? Just slip the politicians enough campaign contributions and they'll let you write the legislation yourself. Need a get out of jail free card? Just update those contracts of yours to include the magic words: "forced arbitration and class-action wavier." Unpaid Loans / Fines? Took on too much debt? Have the taxpayers bail you out. Representation? Yeah, it's called Wall Street. Someone wanna complain about this? Just claim there's plenty of other options out there for them to choose from. All of which are just as on board with / subject to this arrangement as the others.

    When the CORPS are too big to fail, they make the rules. Right now, the rules say: The people lose.

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