McCarthy Highlights Need to Target Monopolies, Section 230 Reform

Kevin McCarthy, House Minority Leader (Republican-Calif.), said that Congress must target monopolies in order to advance Big Tech legislation.

“If ninety percent of your searches go through one search engine, is that a monopoly?” McCarthy asked during an interviewOn Thursday. “If you’re using a platform, and you’re picking and choosing what somebody can say on it, you shouldn’t have liability protection.”

McCarthy was among several legislators who spoke at the Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. annual House GOP retreat hosted by the Congressional Institute. 

McCarthy answered a question and clarified that these characterizations included Google, Facebook, Twitter.

Bipartisan tech antitrust legislation was introduced in October. This would stop tech platforms preferring their own products to those of other competitors. But the “Big Four” tech companies – including Google and Facebook – spent over $55 million on lobbying to stave off the enactment of antitrust legislation last year. The bipartisan antitrust legislation aims to encourage competition in app development. It would require Apple and Google to allow users to download apps from sources other than Apple’s and Google’s in-house app stores.

Pending Section 230 legislation includes the bipartisan Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies (EARN IT) Act of 2022, which would remove tech companies’ legal immunity around content related to alleged child sexual abuse. But skeptics ranging from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to the self-styled “center-right” American Action Forum (AAF) think tank have signaled major privacy concerns about the bill. AAF’s opposition is notable because it has supported censorship in the past. It has supported a relaxed approach towards immigration.

Taking an approach different from the EARN IT Act, Rep. Greg Steube’s (R-FL) Curbing Abuse and Saving Expression in Technology (CASE-IT) Act would strip market-dominant Big Tech companies’ unconditional immunity from civil liability, providing legal immunity only if these companies moderate content in line with the First Amendment, the American Principles Project noted in a one-pager.

McCarthy stated that before Google was the most popular search engine, there had been many other search engines. He said that the House Republicans would like a market that allows people to build alternative platforms and compete with Google.

McCarthy stated that tech executives often deny their programs are engaging in discriminatory practices against users.

“Every time you’d bring one of these CEOs in, and talk to them on the phone – I would raise the concerns – ‘Oh no, Kevin, that’s really not happening. That’s not happening. Oh, that’s an algorithm, so it couldn’t do that,’” McCarthy said. “Well, who writes an algorithm? An algorithm can be written by an individual. You could make an algorithm do anything you want to do.”

McCarthy went on to detail tech CEOs’ dishonesty immediately before they testified to Congress when he was House majority leader.

“And you know what would happen the night before they were to testify?” McCarthy recalled. “They’d put the press release out that said they were sorry, ‘Yeah, that happened.’”

Another conservative lawmaker, Sen. Rick Scott (R.FL), is working to curb Big Tech autocracy.

Scott proposes that social media platforms which censor speech be considered publishers as part of the 11-Point Plan to Rescue America. This will allow them to face legal action. His plan also proposes that platforms receive users’ consent before using their personal information or giving it to a third party.

Conservatives are being attacked. Contact your local representative and demand that Big Tech mirror the First Amendment while providing transparency, clarity on “hate speech” and equal footing for conservatives.

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