Sen. Josh Hawley on censorship, Section 230 and Democrats’ ‘love’ for Big Tech

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., spoke at length from the National Conservatism Conference in Orlando about how to address the growing censorship from Big Tech and whether or not eliminating Section 230 is part of the solution.

There is a big split on Capitol Hill over the censorship debate with Republicans sounding the alarm on the suppression of free speech while Democrats support eliminating extremism and misinformation from the internet. 

In an interview with Fox News Digital, Hawley said Democrats are only concerned about censorship “if it ever happens to them” but that “it’s telling” it “never happens” to them. 

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“I’ve been asking witnesses for years now, name me a Democrat member of Congress who has ever been suspended or had a warning applied to them based on speech, it just never happened,” Hawley said on Sunday. “So the censorship reality is that conservatives are targeted and the liberals are not.” 

Senator Josh Hawley, R-Missouri., speaks during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing titled "Texas Unconstitutional Abortion Ban and the Role of the Shadow Docket", in Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, U.S., September 29, 2021. Tom Williams/Pool via REUTERS

Senator Josh Hawley, R-Missouri., speaks during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing titled “Texas Unconstitutional Abortion Ban and the Role of the Shadow Docket”, in Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, U.S., September 29, 2021. Tom Williams/Pool via REUTERS

The GOP lawmaker was convinced despite their “tough talk,” Democrats have “come to love Big Tech” and “fallen in love with the power of tech,” which is why they are in favor of censorship. 

“I think what the Democrats don’t want to do is they don’t really want to see tech broken up. They don’t really want to see that power split apart. They kind of love that power, and they want to bring government and tech together,” Hawley said. “So what I’m pushing for on Capitol Hill is let’s put some real teeth into our antitrust laws. Let’s give the American people control over their speech, control over their personal information. And let’s get some competition back into these markets.”

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Hawley was confident that the “right answer” to stop Big Tech censorship was to “break these companies up.”

“These companies are too powerful, they are too big. I think that we would be a lot less concerned about their censorship if they had less power and if you had an alternative,” Hawley told Fox News Digital. “If I said, ‘Well, look, I can go to someplace other than Facebook and have a meaningful social media platform or I can do something other than Twitter, and reach the sort of people that you can,’ then I think conservatives would, I certainly would … More importantly, voters would, parents would, but there aren’t those alternatives because they’re monopolies. So I think the answer is to break them up.”

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 13:  U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) listens while Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the second day of her Supreme Court confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill on October 13, 2020 in Washington, DC. Barrett was nominated by President Donald Trump to fill the vacancy left by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who passed away in September. (Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 13:  U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) listens while Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the second day of her Supreme Court confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill on October 13, 2020 in Washington, DC. Barrett was nominated by President Donald Trump to fill the vacancy left by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who passed away in September. (Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images)
(Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images)

Hawley said he was strongly in favor of reforming or completely stripping Section 230 as part of combating Big Tech’s control over the national dialogue. 

“I think you want to give people the right to sue if these platforms violate their own terms of service. Here’s what I mean. Facebook, Google, Twitter, they all loudly say, and they’ve told me this, by the way, under oath, they said, ‘We don’t censor on the basis of political viewpoint. It’s in our terms. We say that, you know, we treat everybody equally.’ Oh, really? Well, let’s make those enforceable,” Hawley said. “Let’s allow people to sue you if they get discriminated against on the basis of political speech. Now, as soon as you say that, the company says, ‘Oh, it could possibly break the internet.’ But that’s because they actually do censor. They actually do discriminate. They don’t want to be held accountable.”

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“So I think we have to get people the right to go to court, you’d have to change Section 230, or just get rid of it. I mean, the truth is Section 230 has far outlived its usefulness. You know, it was written in the 1990s. That was a different world. That was a different time before these monopoly companies. These monopoly companies use it now to make billions of dollars a year to steal our data and our information and pay us nothing for it. So I think we could just do away with Section 230 for all I care but above all, give people the right to enforce their rights in court and to enforce the Terms of Service accord,” Hawley continued. 

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., plans to introduced a bill that would ban major tech companies from selling products on an online marketplace that they run. 

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., plans to introduced a bill that would ban major tech companies from selling products on an online marketplace that they run. 
(AP)

The Missouri senator expressed confidence removing Section 230 won’t lead towards unintended consequences from Big Tech as some suggested would occur, like more censorship.

“I think that after this year what we saw on January, February, March of this past year, where these companies went on a rampage deplatforming conservatives beginning with, at the time, the sitting president of the United States, is pretty hard to argue after what they’ve done that there is some horror show yet to come or what would happen if they really discriminate against conservatives,” Hawley said, referring to Big Tech’s collective deplatforming of former President Donald Trump. “Well they’ve done that, you know, we’ve seen what they can do. And by the way, they’re just going to get more powerful, and they’re just further consolidating control.”

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“Take Amazon for just a second. You know, Amazon’s most important platform isn’t probably the Amazon where we all buy stuff on it. It’s Amazon Web Services is the cloud you know, they increasingly own the cloud, what’s going to happen when Amazon does to some conservative outlet … ‘You know what, we’re not gonna allow you to be hosted on our services anymore.’ I mean, they could shut down whole swaths of the internet and that’s what consolidation is, and that’s why I think we got to break these companies up,” he added. 

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