In a Feb. 27 interview with The Epoch Times‘s “Crossroads,” Attorney General Ken Paxton said that big tech companies like Facebook, Twitter, Google and Amazon “control” their entire platforms and have free rein to decide who gets to use those platforms and who gets “canceled” and is forced to leave them.
“And so there is no other choice other than” to regulate these companies, he said, suggesting that they need to be treated like a utility company. (Related: TX AG Ken Paxton: Key to stopping Google’s censorship is breaking its advertising monopoly.)
“[Big tech firms] have to provide power to everybody, because you’re the only choice,” said Paxton. “Normally, I’d say … a private company can do what they want, and consumers have choices.”
But with regards to social media companies, Paxton said consumers don’t have any choice since they don’t have serious competition.
“And so we have to regulate that and make sure that free speech is not being controlled by a few very wealthy tech people.”
By referring to big tech companies as public utilities, Paxton is implying that they are a public need and as a result, they should be controlled by the government.
The campaign to get the federal government to regulate big tech companies has been growing stronger in recent years. This movement has been led largely by conservatives like former President Donald Trump, who has argued for Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 to be repealed or amended.
Texas legislators already working on bills to combat big tech censorship
In early February, State Sen. Bryan Hughes, a Republican from Mineola, East Texas, introduced a number of bills to the legislature. Among these was a bill aimed at addressing how Texans could respond when they are banned from social media websites.
In an interview with “Inside Texas Politics” on ABC‘s Dallas affiliate WFAA, Hughes explained his anti-deplatforming legislation. He said it would give Texans an avenue to fight back when big tech companies use their terms of service as a weapon to keep people they dislike off their websites, notably people who express conservative-leaning opinions.
“Federal law does allow us to regulate these companies,” explained Hughes. “And so, the bill we’re getting ready to file will say that if a company discriminates against you, if the platform blocks or kicks you off based on your viewpoint, based on your politics or religion, based on viewpoint discrimination, it will give you a way to get back online.”
The state senator said his bill will provide Texans with a legal option they can pursue rather than depending on the appeals process of the websites. These currently do not give Texans a lot of power in the process of retrieving their social media accounts.
“What we would like to do is to give any Texan who’s being discriminated against, the option to bring an action,” he said. “We think that will get Facebook’s attention, get Twitter’s attention, and cause them to start treating Texans fairly.”
A similar bill to curb the power of big tech was brought before the Texas State Senate in 2019. While it passed in the State Senate, it failed to get enough support from the State House despite the fact that both chambers of the legislature were controlled by Republicans.
Texas faces “difficult road” ahead in battle against big tech
Texas has a “huge mountain to climb” in its fight against big tech’s overwhelming ability to crush free speech. This is according to author and biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy.
“Texas’s heart is in the right place,” explained Ramaswamy during an appearance on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends.” “But there’s one particular issue, which is that the way that Section 230 is structured – that’s a federal law – is that it says explicitly that you’re preempting or overriding any liability that these companies might face in state courts.
“So, their heart’s in the right place. But, in order to really deliver the right solution here, this has to be done at the federal level,” he added.
Ramaswamy believes that passing state legislature is not enough, and the Civil Rights Act also needs to be amended to prohibit political discrimination. This would prevent conservatives from being booted en masse from social media platforms.
“Just like how there’s no religious discrimination or discrimination on the basis of national origin,” said Ramaswamy.
The entrepreneur also believes a lot more work needs to be done to remove the power big tech companies were able to gain thanks to the way Section 230 was worded.
“We need to amend Section 230 itself to say that political censorship is off the table, or take this to federal court … As I argued on the show in the past, saying that these companies are actually bound by the First Amendment based on case law. I like where [Texas’s] heart is at, but it’s going to be a very difficult argument because it’s just one state trying to override a federal statute.”
Learn more about the ongoing battle to prevent big tech from discriminating against conservative voices online by reading the latest articles at TechGiants.news.