House Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy sent a letter to his conference Sunday night pledging an alternative framework for reining in Silicon Valley’s empire to the bipartisan package unveiled earlier this month.
“Today’s Big Tech behemoths were once the gold standard of entrepreneurism and innovation,” McCarthy wrote. “They took on incumbents, created new services, and transformed what our economy looks like today. Innovation and competition is what makes a free economy stronger, and ultimately, our lives better. But Big Tech’s idea of competition today is corrupted.”
McCarthy emphasized tackling online censorship as the focal point of the new package with a focus on three primary areas: “accountability,” “transparency,” and “anti-trust review.” Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, who serves as the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Cathy Rodgers, as the ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, will spearhead the effort.
Framework proposals include Section 230 reform of the 1996 Communications Decency Act to limit liability protections and mandated transparency among big tech platforms to publicly disclose reasons for censorship. Had the latter been in place in October, Facebook may have been forced to share the alleged reasons it suppressed blockbuster reporting from the New York Post that implicated Joe Biden in his son’s potentially criminal business activities weeks before the November election. To this day, the company has yet to reveal the fact-checker findings supposedly tasked to verify the Post’s claims in the story, which have since been heavily corroborated.
The new framework from GOP leadership stands in stark contrast to what’s been proposed by members of the House Judiciary Committee led by Rhode Island Democrat Rep. David Cicilline and Colorado Republican Ken Buck, who respectively serve as chair and ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law.
Buck’s legislative package is the product of an 18-month probe by the subcommittee and has drawn endorsements stretching the political spectrum from former House Democrat impeachment managers to Republicans Matt Gaetz of Florida and Burgess Owens of Utah. Absence of censorship addressed in the series of five bills introduced, however, has drawn the ire of McCarthy and Jordan, who in turn have now released plans to unveil their own alternative framework.
Buck’s proposals center on implementing new antitrust laws and empowering the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice (DOJ) with authority to crack down on corporate tech monopolies. In an interview with The Federalist, Buck justified the absence of new rules on censorship claiming the breakup of monopoly power is a prerequisite to dealing with viewpoint discrimination.
“In my view, the only way to address censorship is by breaking up monopolies,” Buck told The Federalist last week.
Yet Jordan branded Buck’s legislation as a trap to foster collusion between the Silicon Valley elite and Washington bureaucrats who share sympathy for maintaining a monopoly on what people believe is truth through anti-conservative censorship.
“This is going to let big tech companies collude with big tech companies to do further harm to conservatives,” Jordan told The Federalist in a separate interview last week, arguing effective legislation must address suppression of dissident views.
The framework rolled out by McCarthy is not devoid of antitrust reform, which stands as the third pillar of the impending legislation.
“Our framework also recognizes that the status quo and bureaucratic delays are not acceptable when it comes to bringing long-overdue antitrust scrutiny to Big Tech,” McCarthy wrote. “We will provide an expedited court process with direct appeal to the Supreme Court and empower state attorneys general to help lead the charge against the tech giants to break them up.”