Use whatever tools you need to contain big tech
Section 230 is just the beginning. Conservatives need to understand that the stakes are bigger than the regulation.
Aside from the bastions of libertarianism, it is clear that the struggle to contain big tech is an issue that should unite mainstream and main street conservative law.
What may once have been a fad for Republicans when Missouri’s new Senator Josh Hawley stepped onto the national scene in 2019 and deciphered Section 230 and “Infinite Scroll” is now out – a New York Post “Pearl Harbor attack” and later a presidential ban – to be one of the great rallying cries of the American right. Limited government champions who became politically mature during the tea party era in Gadsden, like Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Colorado MP Ken Buck, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, are making clickable headlines by exorcising the overreach of Silicon Valley oligarchs . Even many of the most institutionalized Republicans alive recognize the commitment: Utah’s former Senator Orrin Hatch took it over just this week Newsweek Opinion page (which I’m editing) to specifically lament that “for many Americans, Twitter’s Terms of Service now have more power over what they can and can’t say in public,” says the First Amendment.
It is time to revisit Section 230 and beyond. We need a comprehensive political strategy, ranging from Section 230 to antitrust law to legal status as “Common Carrier” and “Public Accommodation” in order to counter this unique 21stCentury threat to the American way of life.
Unfortunately, not everyone is on board on the right. Among the critics of this emerging conservative consensus on using political power to curtail big tech exploding Former Senator from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum, appears to be the punch. The once precocious pro-industrial politics, the populist-oriented conservatives, recently took on The American Conservative to oppose the repeal of section 230 and to passionately appeal “markets, competition and freedom of expression even for speeches with which we do not agree”. My former boss at The daily line, Ben Shapiro, did a similar thing consequentialist arguments about how tinkering with § 230 actually would be tightenrather than improving the status quo of mass suppression of online conservative language.
It should be clear to anyone with two eyes that the titans of Big Tech, who control the chokes for all online information access and dictate the ever-changing rules for our digital public space, have avoided their alleged commitment to the standpoint in favor of ecumenism ideological rule. Even QuilletteThe classic liberal has advocated the enforcement of antitrust law in order to break up these “new rail barons”. This means sounds about right if Google has a market share of 87.3 percent for US search demand, as it does today, and over 90 percent of US Internet users access Google’s YouTube to watch online videos. Facebook now has a market share of 62.89 percent in the social media sector.
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act should never be nearly as powerful as it has become. As my colleague from the Internet Accountability Project and podcast co-host of NatCon Squad, Rachel Bovard, explained in a December USA todayop-ed: “The law was passed almost 25 years ago as a kind of exchange: Internet platforms would receive liability protection so that they could voluntarily filter out harmful content that is accessible to children and in return provide a forum for the“ true ”variety of the political discourse and countless opportunities for intellectual activity. “
Big Tech has clearly not confirmed the end of the Section 230 Agreement. Actions like the collusive joint nuking of the new social networking site Parler by Google, Apple and Amazon – not to mention the “shadow ban” or the complete blocking of innumerable conservative voices for access to their social media accounts – make this clear. As the constitutional scientist Eugene Kontorovich put it two years ago in his testimony of the Judiciary Committee of the Senate: “To enact the [Section 230] The congress assumed that protected internet services represent “a forum for a real diversity of political discourse”. To the extent that the adoption of online businesses is weakened, filtering out the viewpoints that they find ideologically impermissible, the assumptions behind section 230 may need to be revised. “
The situation is exacerbated by the fact that in 2021, Big Tech is barely private in the true sense of the word. Rather, big tech is best understood today as a quasi-state appendage of the American ruling class that assists the ruling class in exercising political power at the regime level to reward their friends and punish their enemies. Corporations now operate in a perverse climate of dilapidated pseudo-capitalism, and Big Tech’s political nepotism is almost an example of Deng Xiaoping-style “socialism with Chinese features”. To call this situation daunting would be an understatement: we are through the mirror.
In truth, big tech is just the most egregious example of a bigger trend. Conservatives are increasingly realizing that big business in general is definitely not our friend. There’s nothing particularly conservative about policies that encourage the accumulation of inexplicable, unprecedented corporate power – not least when the fat cats of this C-suite of these corporations berate us and everything we stand for. Conservatives must be comfortable using every instrument in our collective arsenal – including, at the federal level, not only the reform and enforcement of antitrust law under Section 230, but also the application of the legal paradigms “common carrier” and “public accommodation” – demand our democracy back from the bright oligopolists, technocrats and machines. If the price of inaction is a self-inflicted mission to eternal political irrelevance, we need an all-encompassing strategy, hands on deck.
My own interest in the big tech debate is shaped by my belief that it is the perfect advocate for the struggle for conservatism is and what it should beif we move beyond the Trump era. That is, was it all just a divergent lightning bolt that was never to be imitated or duplicated again, or was it a harbinger of what was to come on the American right? Will conservatism recede to the movement and party of lax borders and? laissez-faire Fundamentalism, or will it recapture the cloak of justice, the nation state and the common good? The insistent “Build Your Own Google!” Smart Set are intent on regression while the more prudential and pragmatic of us have to work for the latter thing. They may be preoccupied with an unprecedented moral superiority of “principled” means that are ready to lose again and again, but we must above all be concerned with pursuing the material goals of politics and fighting for victory.
The inner-conservative lines of battle are thus largely determined. Unfortunately, only one side of this intellectual struggle suggests that this is not just a question of ordinary politics, but one on which our survival as a free people necessarily depends. So good luck to all battle participants, but maybe better luck to the side that takes the relevant missions.
Josh Hammer is opinion editor of Newsweek, research fellow at the Edmund Burke Foundation and advisor and policy advisor to the Internet Accountability Project. Twitter: @josh_hammer.