Rep. Rodgers outlines GOP ‘Big Tech Accountability Platform’
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, on Tuesday said Republicans will expand on work they began last year to promote American “global leadership” on emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence.
The congresswoman also indicated Tuesday that Republicans on the committee will continue to target social media giants over allegations of anti-conservative censorship, although such claims have not been substantiated.
“I’m certainly not happy with Big Tech, but I believe we can still promote American global leadership while not turning a blind eye to problems we see here at home,” Rodgers said in a keynote address at the virtual State of the Net conference.
The congresswoman bashed European efforts to regulate top U.S.-based tech companies and called on allies to instead work with the U.S. to “ensure emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence are developed with Western values to counter and isolate China.”
“It must be a collaborative approach,” she said. “By upholding our American values for human rights and dignity, we can use artificial intelligence as a force for good and save people’s lives.”
The same day Rodgers spoke at the State of the Net conference, she also released the “Big Tech Accountability Platform” that will guide House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans’ approach toward regulating tech companies.
E&C Republican Leader @CathyMcMorris outlines Big Tech Accountability Platform which will guide Committee Republicans in tackling these critical issues
“My sincere hope was Big Tech would understand and take seriously the significant role they play in our society. They have not” pic.twitter.com/k8qPdGILkd
— Energy & Commerce GOP (@HouseCommerce) January 26, 2021
The plan indicates Republicans will push forward with allegations that tech platforms are seeking to censor conservative voices, as they widely accused them of last year over decisions to put labels on posts from former President Trump and other GOP lawmakers.
In the committee’s platform, Rodgers singled out Twitter’s decision to permanently ban Trump shortly before the end of his term, calling it an action that “should concern us all.”
“My sincere hope was Big Tech would do better, especially to contribute to America’s standing as a world leader in technological innovation,” she wrote. “I hoped that they would understand and take seriously the significant role they play in our society, and not just within their own bubble that prefers sameness over creativity and diversity of thought. Unfortunately, Big Tech has broken any sense of trust that they can be fair stewards for speech and the truth.”
The platform released by Rodgers outlines several issues to address regarding the power of technology companies. Among the issues related to “big tech responsibility,” the platform calls for reform of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a landmark law that provides a liability shield for tech platforms for third-party content posted on their sites.
Republicans have widely called for the reform or repeal of the law over accusations of anti-conservative biases. Trump’s plan to repeal the law was abandoned by former Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai shortly before President Biden took office, but there is a chance the Biden administration pushes forward with a plan for some type of reform of the law.
Biden’s nominee to serve as Commerce secretary, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D), said Tuesday during a Senate confirmation hearing that the controversial law needs to be reformed and pledged to consult with members of Congress on ways to do so if confirmed.
Other issues Rodgers highlighted addressed the market power of tech platforms. The Republicans cited exploring the power of Apple and Google over app stores as well as exploring the e-commerce marketplace power over consumer choice.
The Hill has reached out to a Democratic spokesperson for the House Energy and Commerce Committee for comment.