This week, the Senate debated what has been known as the ‘Big Tech Censorship’ bill, Senate File 580.
This bill requires social networking websites like Twitter or Facebook to respect the free speech rights of Iowans, protected by both the United States and Iowa Constitutions, and not censor their constitutionally protected speech. If they don’t respect these fundamental rights of Iowans, they will lose their tax incentives, paid for by the very people they are censoring.
Technology and social media dominate much of our lives these days, and big tech companies determine what information is available to Iowans online. Not only do they determine what kind of content users see, but they also determine the priority of the information users see. The censorship of certain viewpoints has been a growing concern in America, but it has dramatically increased in frequency and scope over the last year. We can no longer wait for Congress to fix the problem they have created through section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and must act now to protect the fundamental free speech rights of Iowans.
Billions of people head to Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms to voice their thoughts, opinions, and ideas. When those get censored by these big tech companies, we start losing one of our most important and vital freedoms given to us by the United States Constitution – the freedom of speech. Social media is the public square of the 21st century, and social media users have the right to voice their thoughts and opinions, even if the CEOs of Silicon Valley disagree with those thoughts and opinions.
Additionally, Senate File 580 prevents taxpayer money from going to companies that remove an Iowan’s ability to download other social networking sites, purchase protected publications and material on a massive online marketplace, or allow Iowans to opt-out of post-promoting or shadow-banning algorithms. This bill does not prohibit these companies from operating in Iowa, it simply says, if they choose to censor Iowans, they will not receive the generous subsidies and tax credits currently offered to them.
After passing in the Senate, SF 580 now goes to the House for their consideration.