Congress takes first shot at federal censorship: a moratorium on DOJ payments to social media
House Republicans introduce ELON Act, which would require an audit of all DOJ funds that flowed to Big Tech and a one-year moratorium.
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Stunned by a growing body of evidence showing federal pressure to silence Americans' voices online, House Republicans have unleashed their first legislation to slow government requests to Big Tech to censor content.
The ELON Act, introduced this month by Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) and backed by nine other cosponsors, would impose a one-year moratorium on taxpayer payments from the Justice Department to social media firms as well as require an audit on how much money changed hands since the start of 2015 between DOJ and Big Tech firms.
The legislation comes weeks after the blockbuster revelation that the FBI paid more than $3 million to Twitter to compensate that firm for handling a large number of censorship requests dating to the 2020 election.
"Who would ever have thought that the FBI would be paying Big Tech companies, you know, for their 'advice' or their counsel to the tune of millions upon millions of dollars?" asked Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) in an interview with Just the News.
"What they're doing is what the government cannot do directly," he added. "And that is they are doing government by proxy, or censorship by proxy. And this is 100% a violation of the Constitution."
Boebert said the body of evidence that has emerged in the Twitter Files released by Elon Musk shows the FBI and other agencies have engaged in far deeper censorship than just the October 2020 blocking of stories related to Hunter Biden's laptop.
"Big Tech is in bed with the FBI and other agencies to the point where Congress can't tell where one ends and the other begins," Boebert said. "The millions of dollars sent to Twitter that we know of during an election cycle, when they were at the same time censoring the Hunter Biden laptop from hell, is incredibly concerning.
"We must expose the incestuous relationship between Big Tech and the federal government. My bill does exactly that."
At a hearing earlier this month, former Twitter executives said it was an egregious mistake to have censored the true stories about Hunter Biden's laptop. But the censorship exposed by Musk since he took over the social media giant goes far deeper.
"Government paid Twitter millions of dollars to censor info from the public," Musk tweeted, referring to a bombshell report by independent journalist Michael Shellenberger that exposed an internal Twitter email with the subject line "Run the business - we made money!" The message informed then-Twitter Deputy General Counsel Jim Baker that the FBI paid Twitter $3.42 million between October 2019 and February 2021.
The FBI confirmed payments, saying they were a "reimbursement" for the "reasonable costs and expenses associated with their response to a legal process ... For complying with legal requests, and a standard procedure." FBI officials also stated that Twitter wasn't the only social media company to get tax dollars. "We don't just reimburse Twitter," the bureau said.
The Exposing Lewd Outlays for Social Networking Companies Act, or ELON Act, requires the U.S. comptroller general to submit a report to Congress on all taxpayer payments made by DOJ since Jan. 1, 2015, to Twitter, Meta, Google, Microsoft, and Apple.
The proposed legslation also places a one-year moratorium on any new DOJ payments to these companies.