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NetChoice Opposes Republicans’ Proposed Amendments that Attack Online Free Speech

Today, NetChoice questioned the viability of this Administration’s new multi-front attack on social media, including announced proposals by the Department of Justice and by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO).

“This is a coordinated attack by the Administration against tech businesses to sidestep the First Amendment. The Administration is weaponizing the Department of Justice and Congress to control online speech, not stop bad actors,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel at NetChoice.

Following the Trump Administration’s Executive Order on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, Sen. Hawley (R-MO) has been working with the White House to produce a proposal that pressures tech companies to give conservatives special treatment on their websites. The DOJ, meanwhile, has long been concerned with how social media sites moderate controversial conservative posts.

“Freshman Sen. Hawley is obsessed with attacking free speech online. His latest proposal would unleash trial lawyers to file frivolous lawsuits against America’s leading businesses, harming our ability to compete internationally,” continued Szabo. “Sen. Hawley’s bill makes the government the judge, jury, and executioner of what speech is and is not allowed online.”

“On top of all this, America’s leading law enforcement body is introducing legislation that makes it harder to remove terrorist and extremist speech while failing to make it easier to prosecute criminal law. AG Barr is smart enough to know that Section 230 empowers him to prosecute federal criminal laws against online platforms, so it’s clear that he and the DOJ have ulterior motives in moving this proposal.”

“This is not about stopping federal crimes, as Section 230 already allows enforcement of federal criminal law; this is about ramping up pressure to control online free speech to favor conservatives.”