Republican lawmakers are taking action to protect free speech and prevent the Biden administration from working with Big Tech to suppress speech under the guise of combating “disinformation.”
Two bills are being marked up this week by the House Oversight Committee to ensure that federal employees cannot use their positions to engage in censorship and to require reports to Congress on instances where government agencies have suppressed lawful free speech on social media and other Big Tech platforms.
The first bill, introduced by Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., aims to expand the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from participating in political activities in their official positions.
The second bill, introduced by Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., seeks to require reports to Congress on instances where government agencies have suppressed lawful free speech on social media and other Big Tech platforms over the past five years.
According to Comer, the Biden administration has eroded Americans’ First Amendment rights by pressuring social media companies to censor certain views and news on their platforms.
He also accused Biden administration officials of labeling inconvenient facts as disinformation and then pressuring social media companies to suppress content on their platforms.
The lawmakers cited a few recent examples they say are evidence of Biden administration officials using their positions to influence and censor speech on large social media platforms.
Former White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a July 2021 press briefing that once users are banned from one social media platform for spreading coronavirus “misinformation,” they should be expelled from all others as well. In February, Psaki also said that the White House wanted “more” done by Big Tech companies to suppress “misinformation” on their platforms.
Separately, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted that his company censored news articles about the president’s son Hunter after the FBI reached out ahead of the 2020 election.
A handful of Biden’s top federal agencies have been stepping up efforts to monitor and counteract “disinformation” on social media platforms, even in the face of criticism that the administration is attempting to silence conservative or opposing viewpoints.
Republican lawmakers are committed to protecting free speech and preventing the government from suppressing it under the guise of combating “disinformation.”
They argue that the Biden administration’s actions are eroding Americans’ First Amendment rights and that it is essential to expand the Hatch Act and make censorship by a federal government official illegal and subject to disciplinary action.
The bills being marked up this week aim to ensure that government agencies cannot suppress lawful free speech on social media and other Big Tech platforms.