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GOP announces plans to make it easier to break up Big Tech

Ailan Evans, DCNF

House Republicans unveiled an agenda Wednesday aimed at curbing the influence of Big Tech companies.

Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee led by Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan announced their agenda Wednesday to strengthen antitrust regulation of Big Tech, proposing expedited procedures for antitrust lawsuits, increased transparency of content moderation decisions, and Section 230 liability protection reforms.

“Big Tech has targeted conservatives for far too long,” Jordan tweeted. “House Judiciary Republicans have had enough.”

The agenda aims to incentivize legal challenges to Big Tech by requiring expedited treatment of antitrust cases against Big Tech companies at the trial court level. The proposal would also allow for direct appeal to the Supreme Court, and would enable state attorneys general to fast-track cases.

“The laws currently on the books can and should be used to break up Big Tech. The problem has been, however, that these actions take too long and they allow companies years of legal maneuvering,” the agenda read.

The plans would overhaul Section 230 liability shields, which offer companies protection from lawsuits over content on their platforms. To keep these protections, companies would be required to moderate political content in “good faith” and according to “objectively reasonable criteria,” and would also be required to publicly list their content moderation and censorship decisions.

The agenda also proposes consolidating antitrust enforcement power in the Department of Justice and away from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a move which is intended to make antitrust enforcement “more effective and accountable.”

Jordan has challenged Big Tech on several occasions, introducing a bill in April that would remove Section 230 liability protection from companies that moderate content in certain ways. Jordan has also argued that Microsoft should be subject to antitrust regulation.

Jordan’s agenda follows the dismissal last week of an antitrust complaint filed by the FTC and several states against tech giant Facebook, with U.S. District Judge James Boasberg ruling the FTC had failed to demonstrate Facebook constituted a monopoly. A bipartisan group of lawmakers called for renewed FTC action against Facebook on Friday.

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