Republican State Sen. Zach Whiting stated his case for supporting legislation that cracks down on Big Tech censorship at a forum over the weekend.
While his GOP counterparts in the House who attended the forum expressed hesitation when it comes to helping defend Iowans’ First Amendment rights, Whiting ripped Big Tech.
The individual who asked the question expressed concern that a political subdivision may not be able to utilize the platforms under the proposed legislation if the censorship continues. Whiting said he doesn’t read the bill that way, but is open to fix that if it is an unintended consequence.
Whiting said he was “fortunate” to be the first person to sign on to cosponsor the bill. Facebook, Twitter and the like are not government actors, but Whiting said social media is the new public square.
“I love the bill,” Whiting said. “Social media is the public square. So, should we be discriminating against speech we disagree with? I’m a First Amendment purist. I don’t think we should frankly be discriminating against any speech.”
Whiting said burning the flag or making pornography may be very unpatriotic or unwise, but people have the right to do it. Getting into the business of choosing content and viewpoint is “dangerous.”
“What we have is a de facto end-around the First Amendment by Big Tech groups that are silencing speech they disagree with and that is wrong and it is dangerous to our republic,” Whiting said. “This bill puts these people on notice — stop doing what you’re doing.”
President Donald J. Trump threatened to veto legislation because he wanted Section 230 removed, but Congress overrode the veto.
“That’s the process — I get that,” Whiting said. “When Republicans get back into power, these Big Tech companies mark my words, Section 230 being removed and their liability protections will be the least of their concern because the monopolies will be busted up.
“You can say that’s anti-capitalist or whatever, but we have insidious behavior coming from these companies and it is a threat to our republic and our very existence.”
It’s simple, Whiting said, if the companies want the tax breaks and other tax incentives, stop discriminating against Iowans.
While Republican Rep. Megan Jones suggested people just not use the platforms that engage in censorship, Whiting pointed out that these same Big Tech tyrants are able to remove alternative platforms from being accessible.
“We’re going to pass this bill and Big Tech, you’re on notice — stop discriminating against content viewpoints that you disagree with and allow the people to speak,” Whiting said.