WICKER: Congress Needs to Ensure that the Internet Remains a Forum for a “True Diversity of Political Discourse”

August 3, 2020

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today spoke on the Senate floor about the need for Congress to revisit Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Section 230 gives broad liability protections to “interactive computer services,” such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, and other social media platforms. The provision protects online platforms from being held liable for content posted by users.

Click here to watch Chairman Wicker’s floor speech.

Excerpt from Chairman Wicker’s remarks, as delivered, below:

. . . 

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act allows online platforms to censor content that they (the platforms) consider obscene, lewd, harassing, along with several other categories including the term “otherwise objectionable.” 

Mr. President, I am concerned that this term “otherwise objectionable” is too broad and ends up protecting online platforms when they remove content that they simply disagree with, or dislike, or find distasteful personally. 

I fear Section 230 has enabled big tech companies to censor conservative views and voices. And I am joined by a lot of Americans in that view.

As such, this provision has become a loophole for censoring free speech and it risks negating the values at the very heart of our First Amendment.

In the last few years, reports of online censorship of conservative viewpoints have grown more frequent. In early 2018, for example, an undercover report exposed Twitter for systematically “shadow banning” conservative profiles – meaning users were blocked from the platform without being notified.

More recently, Google threatened to demonetize the conservative news site The Federalist for not removing offensive content in their comment section. 

Now based upon information I received, the comments were indeed derogatory and unacceptable. What is noteworthy, is that Google’s threat toward The Federalist was hyper-selective and a bit hypocritical.

Google held The Federalist accountable for comments made by the Federalist readers, but Google does not want to be held responsible for the posts or comments by users on Google’s platforms, including YouTube. A double standard imposed by Google itself.

This selective scrutiny reveals what most Americans already believe: that tech companies are politically biased.