Texas lawmakers are preparing legislation to combat the censorship of speech by big tech companies like Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook and Twitter.
The move follows on the heels of proposed legislation by Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis just last week that would, among other things, fine tech companies $100,000 per day if they suspend a candidate for office during an election.
In an interview on WFAA’s “Inside Texas Politics,” Texas state Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, said that he is planning to introduce legislation that would crack down on social media companies who ban users for violating their rules.
“Federal law does allow us to regulate these companies,” Hughes said.
“So the bill we’re getting ready to file will say that if a company discriminates against you, if the platform blocks or kicks you off based on your viewpoint, based on your politics or religion based on viewpoint discrimination, it will give you a way to get back online,” he added.
Sen. Hughes said that the legislation would empower individuals to file legal action against the companies for locking them out.
“What we would like to do is to give any Texan who is being discriminated against the option to bring an action. We think that will get Facebook’s attention, get Twitter’s attention, and cause them to start treating Texans fairly.”
Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott tweeted his support of the effort on February 7.
“We are working with Sen. Hughes on legislation to prevent social media providers like Facebook & Twitter from cancelling conservative speech,” he wrote.
The legislation has a good chance of becoming law with Gov. Abbott’s support. Republicans control both chambers of the Texas Legislature, with an 82-67 majority in the House of Representatives and an 18-13 majority in the Senate.
Other Texas state lawmakers are preparing additional legislation to target individual tech companies.
“I’ve asked my staff to start drafting legislation to prohibit the use of tax dollars to purchase
@Apple products,” Rep. Cain tweeted. “I hope legislators in other states will so the same.”
The Daily Citizen reached out to Rep. Cain for a statement on his proposed legislation but has not received a response.
Additionally, the Texas lieutenant governor has spoken out against censorship by big tech.
“Enough of allowing Big Tech – Twitter, Google, Facebook and Apple — to silence our freedom of speech. We cannot let this happen,” Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick wrote in a recent statement. “It will lead to more anger. And enough of all the hate on social media toward those who have a different opinion than we do.”
As censorship from big tech companies continues to ramp up, it will be important to see whether additional states join Texas and Florida to protect free speech.
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