Skip to main content

Framework to Stop the Bias and Check Big Tech

A letter to House Republicans from Leader Kevin McCarthy:

Just days before the 2018 primary election, Google search results for “California Republicans” identified our ideology as “Nazism.” At the same time, conservatives like Devin Nunes and Donald Trump Jr. were shadow banned on Twitter. For pro-life groups like Live Action and others, the discrimination wasn’t subtle at all. Since then, the examples of conservative censorship and bias across internet platforms has proliferated. Each one of you are all too familiar with how Big Tech and its overwhelmingly liberal executives want to set the agenda and silence conservatives.

But Big Tech doesn’t just have a free speech problem. It has an anti-competition problem too.

Over 90 percent of search happens on Google and 90 percent of users drop off after first-page results. The ability to stack the deck protects the willing participants of the scheme and punishes the non-compliant. The same gatekeeper effect lies with Amazon and Apple. If your company or product doesn’t meet the criteria of corporate wokeism, it’s increasingly likely Americans won’t find it on these platforms.

Today’s Big Tech behemoths were once the gold standard of entrepreneurism and innovation. 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.

Big Tech wants higher corporate taxes because companies like Amazon know it’s the entrepreneurs and disruptors who will have to pay more to try to compete. Apple, Google, and Amazon use their platforms to tip the scales towards higher fees and their growing product lines. And just about every big technology company has experience copying products or businesses they are unable to acquire.

The Trump Administration wisely commenced antitrust action against Google last October, but more can be done and Congressional action is warranted.

For the sake of preserving free speech and a free economy, it’s time Big Tech faces the music. House Republicans are ready to lead.

This week I will join Ranking Members Jim Jordan and Cathy Rodgers to roll out a framework to stop Big Tech based on three principles:

Accountability: Our framework would rein in Big Tech and end their abusive practices, including by changing the law so that Americans can challenge Big Tech directly for their infringement of public speech rights. This effort starts by taking away the liability shield Big Tech has hidden behind for far too long. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act would be changed to limit liability protections for moderation of speech that is not protected by the First Amendment and would preclude Big Tech from discriminating against Americans based on their political affiliation. We would also require regular reauthorization of Section 230 so Congress may update regulations of the constantly-evolving internet landscape.

Transparency: Our framework would empower Americans by ending Big Tech’s ability to hide behind vague terms of service that have not constrained their conduct in any meaningful way. We will do so by mandating that any Big Tech content moderation decisions or censorship must be listed, with specificity, on a publicly available website. In addition, by requiring Big Tech to implement and maintain a reasonable user-friendly appeals process, our plan will empower conservatives and others whose speech rights have been infringed to challenge Big Tech’s attacks.

Strengthening Anti-Trust Review: 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. 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. We will also reform the administrative state and remove impediments that delay taking action on Big Tech power.

To this point, House Democrats have advanced a plan that not only ignores addressing conservative censorship, it makes it worse. And their plan empowers a federal bureaucracy with no accountability.

I have more faith in elected state leaders than in the unelected federal bureaucracy, which is as ideologically homogeneous as Big Tech. In other words, I think our former colleague Jeff Landry will more effectively prosecute anti-competitive behavior than Lina Khan.

This framework is our jumping off point and more will need to be done. We will work with our members, committees, and newly formed task forces to turn this framework into legislation, and we will fight for floor consideration. Conservatives and our ideas have been targeted by Big Tech for too long. We must step up because make no mistake, the Democrats continue to demonstrate no interest in addressing fairness when it comes to conservative viewpoints. And they’ll continue to use Big Tech to do so.

I look forward to seeing everyone this week to discuss this important issue.

Kevin McCarthy