The debate over how much control Big Tech should have over our information— and its connections to China— only seems to grow more vigorous. With the possibility of Republicans moving into the driver’s seat in Congress after the fall elections, I spoke with Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the lead Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, about their proposal: the Big Tech Accountability Platform.
The following is a transcript of a report from "Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson." Watch the video by clicking the link at the end of the page.
Cathy McMorris Rodgers: That's an important question. Yes. You hear a lot of people talking about the importance of holding Big Tech accountable.
Sharyl: We always hear that both sides of both parties in Congress want to do something about Big Tech, but the problem seems to be, they have very different ideas on what ought to be done. So, while there is a consensus maybe that some action should be taken, there are opposing views on what that should be. Is that fair?
Rodgers: For the Republicans, we believe foundational is protecting free speech, Constitutionally-protected, First Amendment free speech, and the battle of ideas, political speech — has been so foundational in our country. And Big Tech needs to embrace that American principle around protecting free speech and America's constitutional rights. Unfortunately, we are not on the same page. What we hear from the Democrats and what the Democrats have proposed in their recent legislation is calling for more control, more censorship.
Sharyl : There are some people who say Republicans are acting hypocritically on the one hand to say that "we think we should regulate in some way what Big Tech is doing," because, on the other hand, Republicans often say business should be free to do what they wish.
Rodgers: What I am calling for is legislation. I've been working with my colleague, my friend, Congressman Jim Jordan, on legislation around Section 230. And within Section 230 — and that's when the liability protections were put into place that Big Tech hides behind today, these protections that were put into place in 1996, long before Google and Facebook or Twitter even existed — so, those provisions limit, and actually prohibit, people from — individuals or others — taking Big Tech to court. And so what we're proposing is to remove Big Tech from the Section 230 liability provisions so that individuals that have been ban banned off of Facebook, for example, would be able to take that to court, or content that's taken down. It's removing them from Section 230, not calling for more regulation.
Sharyl: If Republicans take the majority in the House, and perhaps even the Senate in the next round of congressional elections, what would you say is likely to happen, if anything, on the legislative front, when it comes to Big Tech?
Cathy McMorris Rodgers: Well, it is a priority for the Republicans as we are working to win the majority, and to be able to pass legislation that will hold Big Tech accountable. The censorship that is currently taking place on these platforms— that is a priority. So the reforms around Section 230. The need for privacy legislation and data security, the amount of information that's being collected on these platforms. And we are desperate in the United States of America for a privacy law that will provide some clarity and some certainty to individuals that their information is protected, and give them some tools to be able to protect themselves on these platforms. And then the third big aspect is holding Big Tech accountable for their relationship with the Chinese communist party and gaining some understanding around the amount of information that's being collected, whether it's the apps or the supply chains — really holding them accountable to make sure that Americans and Americans' information, but also American values are going to be prioritized on these platforms.
Sharyl (on-camera): Democrats like Elizabeth Warren envision a plan to unwind some existing mergers they see as anti-competitive, such as Google, Waze, and Nest; Facebook Instagram, and WhatsApp.
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