Republicans seek to require internet companies to disclose government concerns about content

Republicans in the Senate introduced a piece of legislation requiring social media companies to publicly disclose government requirements or recommendations regarding content posted by users on their platforms.

Facebook, Twitter and similar companies will be obliged to regularly share information about such contacts under the “Online Speech Retention Act” proposed on Wednesday, otherwise they will face increasing fines.

One of the initiators of the bill, Florida Senator Marco Rubio (Marco Rubio) announced the proposed legislation after expressing concern about the White House’s recognition of its role in regulating online medical misinformation.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki recently stated when discussing lies about the online spread of COVID-19 that the Biden administration “is flagging questionable posts for the spread of false information on Facebook.”

“Americans should know when governments—especially their own governments—require or pressure Internet companies to censor legal speech,” Rubio responded in a statement announcing the newly submitted Senate bill.

If approved, the company will have 7 days to disclose any requests for content review made by the US or foreign governments. Except for law enforcement and national security matters.

According to the bill, companies will face a fine of $50,000 per day for non-compliance, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will use the money to provide Internet access in rural areas.

Internet companies including Facebook and Twitter have regularly issued transparency reports, which contain various statistics on requests made by law enforcement officials and other authorities.

The proposed legislation requires these companies to also report the government and even recommend providers to review content, such as editing, deleting, or reducing the coverage of specific posts.

The official name of the bill is “Prevent the restriction and authorization of speakers from achieving robust and diversified communication in online speeches.” There are currently four other sponsors in the Senate, all of which are Republicans.

“If the federal government tries to end the Constitution by secretly cooperating with technology platforms to censor American speech, then the American people should know,” said Republican Senator Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, who was the main sponsor of the bill. “Requirement for transparency will ensure that the government cannot secretly censor Americans,” he said in a statement.

Other sponsors of the bill include Senator Rick Scott of Florida, Cynthia Loomis of Wyoming and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. It has been submitted to the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.

Spokespersons for Facebook and Twitter did not immediately respond to news about the bill.

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