Wicker, Rubio, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Halt Big Tech and Government Censorship

July 17, 2023

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., joined Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., in reintroducing the PRESERVE Online Speech Act. This bill would combat censorship coordination between big tech companies and governments by requiring technology companies to disclose any U.S. or foreign government requests or recommendations regarding content moderation.

"The government should not be colluding with Big Tech to censor American voices online,” Wicker said. “This legislation will help preserve First Amendment freedoms and ensure Americans get the transparency they deserve."

“If the government is working with Big Tech to censor freedom of speech, the American public deserves to know,” Rubio said. “Transparency is essential to protecting our First Amendment. That's why I'm introducing legislation to require the government to disclose any requests or pressure it makes to tech companies to censor speech.”

Among other provisions, the PRESERVE Online Speech Act would:

  • Require internet companies to publicly disclose within seven days any government (U.S. or foreign) request to moderate content outside of a law enforcement proceeding and detail any action taken as a result.
  • Levy a daily fine of $50,000 on non-compliant firms. These funds are directed to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to provide rural broadband access.
  • Require the FCC to submit an annual report to Congress covering all government censorship requests that year and actions taken as a result.

The Biden administration has been criticized for its intrusive interactions with social media companies. Recently, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction that prevents the administration from further communicating with social media companies about content and censorship. This injunction came after former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki openly admitted that the Biden administration was “flagging problematic posts” for social media companies.

In addition to Wicker and Rubio, the bill is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., Ron Johnson, R- Wis., Rick Scott, R-Fla., and J.D. Vance, R-Ohio.

The full text of the legislation can be found here.