House GOP announces bills to guard against government censorship
"The Biden Administration has eroded Americans' First Amendment rights by bullying social media companies to censor certain views and news on their platforms," Comer said.
House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., on Thursday announced a markup of legislation to protect free speech from government censorship.
The proposal includes two bills, among them the Protecting Speech from Government Interference Act, which aims to restrict federal employees from using their positions to pressure private entities to censor. Comer introduced the measure to expand on the Hatch Act's restrictions on government employees engaging in political activities.
"The bill prohibits agency employees from using their authority to influence or coerce a private sector platform to censor—including to remove, suppress, restrict, or add disclaimers or alerts to—any lawful speech posted on its platform by a person or entity," the markup reads. "It provides an exception for legitimate law enforcement activities reported to Congress for review."
The second bill, dubbed the Accountability for Government Censorship Act, will be introduced by Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Scott Perry at a later date.
That measure would require "a government-wide report to Congress of every instance, over the past five years, that a federal agency has communicated with a non-governmental entity for the purpose of removing, suppressing, restricting, or adding disclaimers to lawful speech posted on a platform."
"The report will include the agency employees that initiated the communication, the targeted platforms, and a justification of the action. Agency compliance with the reporting requirement will be audited by the inspectors general," the markup explained.
Comer asserted that the measures were necessary to combat administration efforts to label information and viewpoints contrary to their narrative as misinformation.
"The Biden Administration has eroded Americans' First Amendment rights by bullying social media companies to censor certain views and news on their platforms," he said. "Biden Administration officials are quick to label inconvenient facts as disinformation and then pressure social media companies to suppress content on their platforms."
"To protect the First Amendment, the Oversight Committee will consider bills that stop the federal government from pressuring social media companies to silence Americans expressing views online and require a government-wide report to provide transparency about government censorship activity. This transparency and accountability are long overdue," he concluded.
Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on Twitter.