WASHINGTON—United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN), along with Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Roger Marshall (R-KS), and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), today reintroduced the Disclose Government Censorship Act, which seeks to end government-directed speech suppression and viewpoint censorship by requiring basic transparency regarding when Americans’ government is attempting to control what they can say or read. The Act contains appropriate exceptions to protect legitimate law enforcement or national security activity. It also places restrictions on the revolving door between government and Big Tech, which fuels much of the close coordination on censorship.
“The collusion between the Biden Administration and Big Tech that has come to light over the last two years is not only disturbing but inconsistent with the government’s constitutional role in American life,” said Senator Hagerty. “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, 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,” said Senator Rubio. “That is particularly true for our own government. This legislation will require transparency from governments, including the Biden Administration, when they collude with Big Tech and silence Americans in the process.”
“Time and time again, the Biden Administration and Big Tech have shown they cannot police themselves in protecting American’s First Amendment right to free speech,” said Senator Johnson. “This bill shines a light on the collusion between bureaucrats and Big Tech.”
“Democrats have a rich history of censoring and silencing Republicans. This bill will protect our first amendment rights of free speech by ensuring that any government communication with tech platforms to restrict speech is made publicly available,” said Senator Marshall. “The dangerous relationship between the Left and Big Tech must stop.I am pleased to join Sen. Hagerty in re-introducing this important legislation.”
“It is un-American for our government to pressure social media platforms to censor speech and viewpoints it does not find favorable,” said Senator Lummis. “People in Wyoming expect the government to protect their First Amendment rights, not actively infringe on them. I appreciate Senator Hagerty’s efforts to expose this issue and fight back against government sponsored censorship.”
“In this country, we value our freedom,” said Senator Rounds. “The Biden administration has taken alarming steps to collude with Big Tech platforms over the past two years. As a result, Americans’ freedom of speech is being violated. This is outright wrong. I am pleased to join Senator Hagerty in introducing this bill to enforce government transparency and protect the First Amendment rights of American citizens.”
Hagerty first introduced the Disclose Government Censorship Act during the 117th Congress after the White House admitted that it routinely urges Big Tech companies to remove speech from their platforms that the Biden Administration deems inaccurate or inconvenient.
Since first introducing the bill in July 2021, more collusion between the Biden Administration and Big Tech companies has come to light through release of the “Twitter Files,” which confirmed detailed accounts of coordinated censorship between the White House and social media companies such as Twitter.
In December 2022, Hagerty sought to pass the Disclose Government Censorship Act after published emails among Twitter executives revealed the extent to which the company worked to prevent Americans from seeing a New York Post news story just weeks before the election. Additional evidence also emerged that, in 2020, Biden and Democrat campaign officials were going so far as to send lists of tweets for their corporate allies to remove—requests that Twitter granted. However, despite mounting proof of unaccountable Big Tech companies allying with the Biden Administration to limit free speech, Democrats blocked passage of the bill.
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.