Sen. Blackburn Reveals How She Would Address Big Tech's Acts of Suppression

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Posted: Oct 17, 2020 5:50 PM
Sen. Blackburn Reveals How She Would Address Big Tech's Acts of Suppression

Source: AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, Pool

Over the last few days, the New York Post has had multiple articles about Hunter Biden's shady business dealings in Ukraine that Big Tech giants – like Facebook and Twitter – have suppressed. As of now, the Post is still locked out of their Twitter account and can't share their content with viewers. Those who attempted to share the articles that featured Biden's emails where he sold access to his father, former Vice President Joe Biden, were also censored. 

According to Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Congress needs to address the issue of suppression. And they can do so by supporting the Online Freedom and Viewpoint Diversity Act that she co-sponsored alongside Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Chairman Roger Wicker (R-MS).

"What we would do is turn that shield back into something that is transparent by saying, 'Here is when you can use it. Here is when you can not use it' and being explicit in that," Blackburn explained during a Saturday segment on Fox News. "Also defining the content creator and moderator."

“Why not just take Section 230 [of the Communications Decency Act] away? Why not let these companies be liable to suits for what they may or may not publish?” host Will Cain asked.

"That’s right. And the reason that, as we’ve worked on this over the last several years, the reason you do not take it away is because you want a competitive marketplace, and Section 230 was put in place for new start businesses," she explained. "This is something that was put there in the ’90s as the internet and these platforms were growing. They are no longer in their infancy.”

“So, it would still apply to small companies, but no longer to these massive tech companies?” Cain followed up.

“That’s right," Blackburn said.

If passed, the Online Freedom and Viewpoint Diversity Act would:

  • Clarify when Section 230’s liability protections apply to instances where online platforms choose to restrict access to certain types of content;
  • Condition the content moderation liability shield on an objective reasonableness standard. In order to be protected from liability, a tech company may only restrict access to content on its platform where it has “an objectively reasonable belief” that the content falls within a certain, specified category;
  • Remove “otherwise objectionable” and replace it with concrete terms, including “promoting terrorism,” content that is determined to be “unlawful,” and content that promotes “self-harm.”
  • Clarify that the definition of “information content provider” includes instances in which a person or entity editorializes or affirmatively and substantively modifies the content created or developed by another person or entity but does not include mere changes to format, layout, or basic appearance of such content.

As of now, the bill currently sits in the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which Sen. Wicker chairs.