Republicans in Ohio are pushing for a bill that they say is aimed at countering Big Tech censorship.
From Fox 8:
In an 8-4 vote Thursday, the Civil Justice Committee approved House Bill 441 to prohibit social media platforms from censoring expression based on a user’s “viewpoint” – not including speech that’s already deemed illegal under federal law, like harassment or shouting “fire” in a crowded theater.
The bill joins an increasingly national discourse concerned with the uptick in social media sites deplatforming or restricting users – ranging from the permanent suspension of former President Donald Trump’s Twitter account due to incitement of violence to removing individual Facebook posts promoting Holocaust denial conspiracies.
The bill comes after a prominent Ohio attorney was banned from YouTube last year, with the platform claiming that the attorney was spreading misinformation about COVID-19.
But the Republican lawmakers argue that tech companies should allow free speech and let users judge information for themselves.
“By preventing Big Tech companies from continuing to engage in viewpoint discrimination, we hope to protect the free exchange of ideas and information in Ohio,” said Republican State Rep. Scott Wiggam during testimony about the bill.
The bill does not give the state the power to enforce the ban, but instead allows individuals to file a civil suit against large tech companies that block or restrict them from using the platform.
The bill also comes during Elon Musk’s high-profile takeover of Twitter, a platform Musk has consistently criticized for limiting free speech.
Musk spoke out about former President Donald Trump’s ban from Twitter on Tuesday, saying he would reverse the ban when he takes over ownership of the company.
“Permanent bans should be extremely rare and really reserved for accounts that are bots, or scam, spam accounts,” Musk said. “I do think it was not correct to ban Donald Trump. I think that was a mistake, because it alienated a large part of the country and did not ultimately result in Donald Trump not having a voice.”