GOP and Dem sponsors make contradictory statements on antitrust bill
Over the past week, GOP sponsors of tech antitrust legislation (S. 2992) made statements to the press and at Hill events suggesting their legislation will prevent big tech companies from moderating speech on their platforms. The statements follow concerns raised by Democratic senators that S. 2992 would block content moderation, allowing for the spread of hate speech and disinformation.
Bill sponsor Sen. Chuck Grassley (6/16/22):
[In response to Democratic concerns that S. 2992 would prevent companies like Apple from deplatforming Parler over misinformation] “Nobody should be taking Parler down for that reason. It’s an idiotic reason.”
Bill sponsor Rep. Ken Buck (6/14/22):
“I really care about this issue for another reason and that is speech.”
Bill sponsor Sen. Chuck Grassley (6/8/22):
“This [bill] is the best way to address the problems of big tech’s power over what we buy, what we see, what we read, what we say, online.”
Bill sponsor Rep. Ken Buck (6/8/22):
“But we have not addressed the threat to our democracy , the threat to free speech, that big tech poses. That’s why I don’t understand why I’m here. I should be here with my colleagues from the Senate and from the House announcing that the bill has passed.”
Bill co-sponsor Sen. Ted Cruz (1/20/22):
“As it concerns the problem of censorship, it doesn’t protect consumers. I think it oughta protect everyone. This is targeted to businesses, so it is a subset of potentially impacted players. But as I read this statute, it would provide protections to content providers, to businesses, that are discriminated against because of the content of what they produce. I think that is a meaningful step forward.”
Democratic sponsors Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Rep. David Cicilline have denied the bill would have any impact on content moderation online. But analysis by digital experts as well as statements from public interest organizations including Free Press and the Center for Democracy & Technology show that the bill would, in fact, hamper content moderation efforts.
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