U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, introduced a bill aimed at curbing tech censorship called the PRO-SPEECH Act last week.
The bill would establish baseline protections to prohibit Big Tech from engaging in unfair, deceptive, or anti-competitive practices that limit or control consumers’ speech.
The bill draws a strict distinction between publishers and platforms, requiring that platforms abide by a series of rules regarding access to the service.
According to a press release from Sen. Wicker’s office, the bill aims to:
- Preserve consumers’ ability to access lawful content, applications, services, or devices, so long as they do not interfere with an internet platform’s functionality or pose a data privacy or data security risk to a user.
- Prohibit internet platforms from taking any actions against users based on racial, sexual, religious, partisan, or ethnic grounds.
- Prohibit large internet platforms from blocking or discriminating against competing internet platforms by declaring such actions presumptively anti-competitive.
- Require an internet platform to disclose to the public accurate information regarding the platform management practices, performance characteristics, and commercial terms of service of any app store, cloud computing service, operating system, search engine, or social media network it owns; and
- Authorize the Federal Trade Commission to enforce the Act under Section 5 of the FTC Act notwithstanding any other provision of law.
“The big social media companies continue to abuse their market power by censoring content, suppressing certain viewpoints, and prioritizing favored political speech,” said Sen. Wicker in a statement.
“My bill would put safeguards in place to preserve internet freedom, promote competition, and protect consumers from these blatantly biased practices. It is time for Congress to act to ensure the internet can be an open forum where diverse views are expressed.”