Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is offering a framework for what appears to be a counterproposal to the set of bipartisan bills to rein in Big Tech circulating in the House — saying House Republicans are ready to make tech behemoths “face the music.”
McCarthy (R-Calif.) unveiled his plans to develop the proposal in a letter to House Republicans released by his office Sunday evening, writing that House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) would join him in crafting the legislation.
“For the sake of preserving free speech and a free economy, it’s time Big Tech faces the music,” the top ranking GOP lawmaker wrote, “House Republicans are ready to lead.”
The California Republican explained that their framework would be based on three principles: accountability, transparency and strengthening antitrust review.
Regarding accountability, McCarthy wrote in his letter that his group’s proposal would include Section 230 reform, referring to a provision of the Communications Decency Act, which provides a legal shield to tech companies for content on their websites.
Section 230, McCarthy wrote, “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.”
On transparency, McCarthy said his bill will require social media platforms to list their content moderation or censorship practices, “with specificity, on a publicly available website.”
“[B]y 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,” the letter added.
McCarthy said that his bill will also address antitrust concerns, writing, “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.”
As a solution, he writes, the GOP proposal would “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,” he added.
The bipartisan package of five bills was introduced earlier this month, with one part advancing through the House Judiciary Committee with a single Republican vote last Thursday.
The the five antitrust proposals are aimed at Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google’s parent Alphabet, making it harder for the biggest tech platforms to complete mergers and keep them from owning businesses that create conflicts of interest.
Two of the new bills could be particularly tricky for Amazon and Apple to navigate as they both run marketplaces that include their own products or apps that compete with outside sellers that rely on their services.
There has been opposition to the anti-tech measures from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s Google, and there is no certainty that any of them will become law.
Lawmakers from both parties have expressed concern about the toughest legislation in the package.
The Judiciary Committee also voted to increase the budgets of the agencies enforcing antitrust law and a companion measure has passed the Senate. The panel also passed a bill to ensure that antitrust cases brought by state attorneys general remain in the court they select.