WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Dave Joyce has introduced legislation designed to hold Big Tech media companies accountable for their so-called website moderation policies which doesn’t silence conservative voices in the virtual marketplace of ideas.

Joyce (R-OH-14) joined Representatives Tom Rice (R-SC-07) and Ralph Norman (R-SC-05) on November 1 in introducing the Promoting Responsibility Over Moderation in the Social Media Environment (or PROMISE) Act, a bill designed to hold Big Tech companies accountable for their pledges to keep their content moderation policies and enforcement free of political bias.

“With just a small handful of platforms dominating the exchange of ideas online, it’s critical that their content moderation policies be implemented consistently and fairly across the board,” Joyce said in a news release sent to The Ohio Star.

 “Unfortunately, we now know that Big Tech and Silicon Valley often do the exact opposite, suppressing speech and views they disagree with,” he added. “The natural competition of all thought and expression – not just those that are popular in elite circles – is a staple of any free, democratic society.”

The legislation, which has yet to gain a bill number,  is a companion bill to Senate Bill 427 that Senator Mike Lee, R-UT, introduced in late February.

According to the congressman’s press release, the proposed House PROMISE bill requires a “covered entity” – such as Facebook and other platforms – to implement, operate, and disclose information moderation policies to users that explain the standards, processes and policies.

Such policy statements must include categories of information not permitted on the platform or service; the process the entity uses in moderating its content; and the notification process and rationale when action is taken as well as any avenues of appeal or redress, according to the congressman’s news release.

The bill also seeks to make platform violations of disclosed policies an unfair or deceptive act or practice a subject to the Federal Trade Commission Act.

“By holding Facebook and other online platforms accountable for their biased censorship decisions, this important legislation will help ensure the internet fosters the free exchange of all ideas, no matter if they are liberal or conservative,” Joyce said in the release.

The proposed legislation has lots of competition in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate but, like those bills already introduced, faces an uncertain future.

Senator Lee’s bill, for instance, has received two readings in the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transporation but has not advanced to debate in hearings and votes on amendments and passage.

The Republican Caucus in late July set up a clearinghouse of legislative ideas regarding regulation of Big Tech’s hold on public debate and platforms’ misuse by so-called bad actors.

Topics include amending or eliminating Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act that reads, in part, “No provider of user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”

While designed to protect hosts from legal liability and promote, social media platforms have been accused of bad faith in censoring conservative voices and others while not doing enough to control criminal elements.

“Big Tech has broken our trust that they can be good and responsible stewards of their platforms,” wrote Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodger, R-WA-O8, the Republican leader on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, on the GOP committee members’ website. “Our goal is for these (legislative) drafts to lead to concrete legislation.”

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Brian R. Ball is a veteran Columbus journalist writing for The Ohio Star and Star News Network. Send him news tips to [email protected]
Photo “Dave Joyce” by U.S. Congress. Background Photo “Facebook” by Stock Catalog. CC BY 2.0.