Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) effectively stalled last week’s committee vote on a plan that would have provided loopholes to federal antitrust regulations for small and medium-sized media organizations, allowing them to conspire with big tech to restrict what users may see.
Legislation proposed in March by Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar & Louisiana Republican John Kennedy, titled the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, would enable media organizations with fewer than 1,500 employees to engage in collective bargaining with corporate tech giants to secure payment for content published on Silicon Valley’s massive social media platforms. As a result of the Judiciary Committee’s approval of an amendment sponsored by Cruz and supported by Kennedy, antitrust rules would remain in place if discussions involved content regulation, and Klobuchar withdrew the bill.
Sen. @TedCruz told Breitbart News that the delay of the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA) was a “huge victory for free speech” and an indictment of how much Democrats “love censorship.” https://t.co/NfzmY2NevG
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) September 9, 2022
At the hearing, Cruz stressed the importance of knowing whether or not this bill would increase censorship. He went on to say that, during negotiations, parties shouldn’t focus on content moderation and how to suppress substantive content but instead on the implicit harm this bill is directed at the loss of the ability to get earnings from your content.
Kennedy, during the discussion, summed up Cruz’s worries that led to the amendment. By the end of the day, Kennedy came around to supporting the senator from Texas.
Kennedy, reviewing the amendment with Cruz, said, “What you’re saying is that when you sit down and negotiate, you’re just negotiating over price, over money.” Cruz confirmed that this was the case.
According to Kennedy, businesses would lose their antitrust exemptions if a social media representative said, “Look, I can give you a better price if you work with me more on changing your content.”
“It doesn’t even have to be connected to price,” Cruz explained. “If they sit down and say, ‘let’s all agree to come together and silence the following voices.’ Without this amendment, there would be no antitrust liability for that collusion of a cartel. Otherwise, there would arguably be an antitrust liability.”
“I don’t have any problem with that,” Kennedy said. “This just makes explicit what I thought was implicit.”
Without Georgia Democrat Jon Ossoff, who contracted covid-19 while visiting India, Republicans in the Senate were able to enact Cruz’s amendment along party lines while they held the majority. However, once Ossoff returns, Klobuchar will likely resubmit the bill.
She reportedly told Politico that she intends to work with both parties to advance the bill.
“What happened today was a huge victory for the First Amendment and free speech,” Cruz said in a remark. “Sadly, it is also a case study in how much the Democrats love censorship. They would rather pull their bill entirely than advance it with my proposed protections for Americans from unfair online censorship.”
Cruz’s concerns concerning broad restriction and government-incentivized collaboration comes on the wake of allegations that social media firms, including Facebook and Twitter, censored content at the behest of federal authorities.
According to newly published court documents, independent journalist and longtime New York Times reporter Alex Berenson was suspended from Twitter in August 2021 after a deliberate attempt from the White House.
In August, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged on Joe Rogan’s podcast that Facebook actively suppressed articles about Hunter Biden’s computer in the fall 2020 campaign season at the behest of the FBI.