Hagerty, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to End Government Collusion with Big Tech to Censor Americans’ Speech

July 28, 2021

WASHINGTON—United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN), along with Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Ron Johnson (R-WI), and Roger Marshall (R-KS), today introduced the Disclose Government Censorship Act, which seeks to end the government-directed speech suppression and viewpoint censorship the White House recently revealed in stating that it routinely urges Big Tech companies to remove the speech of Americans that the government deems inaccurate or unhelpful.

“The recent collusion that has come to light between the Biden Administration and Big Tech is not only disturbing, but inconsistent with the government’s constitutional role in American life,” Hagerty said. “The purpose of the First Amendment is to prevent government from suppressing speech with which it disagrees. If the federal government is attempting to end-run the Constitution by secretly working with tech platforms to censor Americans’ speech, then the American people deserve to know. Requiring transparency will ensure that the government cannot work secretly to censor Americans.”

“No government should pressure social media companies into censoring their users’ legal speech. That is particularly true for our own government,” Rubio said. “This legislation will require transparency from governments, including the Biden Administration, when they collude with Big Tech and silence Americans in the process.”

“It is outrageous the Biden administration is coordinating with Big Tech to infringe on American citizens’ First Amendment freedoms,” Johnson said. “Big Tech, the mainstream media, and the Administration have no credibility in determining what is and isn’t misinformation. I’m pleased to co-sponsor Senator Hagerty’s legislation that aims to provide transparency regarding this administration’s actions and prevent Big Tech and Big Government from colluding to censor the free speech of Americans.”

“The Biden Administration’s recent efforts to partner with Big Tech and remove social media content that it finds problematic is deeply disturbing,” Marshall said. “There’s a reason that our founding fathers had the wisdom to enshrine the right to free speech as our first freedom, because it’s fundamental to the health of our democracy. Government must not be in the business of picking and choosing who gets to speak up or what can be said in the public sphere, and this bill ensures transparency in any efforts to censor opinions with which they disagree.”

To provide transparency regarding these censorship efforts, the Disclose Government Censorship Act requires Executive and Legislative Branch employees to publicly disclose on an easily accessible website any communications with technology platforms regarding action or potential action by the platforms to restrict speech, with the exception of communications for a legitimate law enforcement or national security purpose. This legislation also establishes a cooling-off period during which government employees who engage with Big Tech platforms to censor Americans’ speech cannot turn around and lobby the government on behalf of such platforms, in order to prevent conflicts of interest that create the potential for increased censorship.

In April, Hagerty introduced the 21st Century FREE Speech Act, which would: (1) abolish Section 230’s license to censor; (2) treat the largest Big Tech platforms like common carriers that must provide reasonable, nondiscriminatory access to all consumers to prevent political, religious, or other censorship; and (3) require Big Tech platforms to disclose their content management and moderation practices to users, so that consumers can better understand and assess the information they receive.