House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., unveiled plans over the weekend to hold Big Tech companies accountable for what he described as "conservative censorship" and anticompetitive practices.
In a letter to fellow Republicans on Sunday, McCarthy outlined plans that would curb existing legal protections for companies like Twitter if they censor content while making it easier for state attorneys general to bring antitrust actions against tech behemoths like Google and Amazon if they break the law.
"For the sake of preserving free speech and a free economy, it’s time Big Tech faces the music," McCarthy said. "House Republicans are ready to lead."
The GOP leader pointed to 2018, when conservative figures such as Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and Donald Trump Jr. were "shadow banned" on Twitter, while Google search results for "California Republicans" compared them to Nazis.
"Since then, the examples of conservative censorship and bias across internet platforms has proliferated," the letter said. "Each one of you are all too familiar with how Big Tech and its overwhelmingly liberal executives want to set the agenda and silence conservatives."
Fox News reached out to Twitter and Google for comment, but they did not immediately respond.
McCarthy’s plan, which he will be introducing this week alongside Reps. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Cathy Rodgers, R-Wash., includes rolling back protections under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which shields online platforms from liability regarding statements made by their users. Republicans have been arguing that social media companies like Twitter and Facebook should instead be treated more like newspapers because their history of censoring posts based on their messaging is more akin to editorial decision-making than simple enforcement of site rules.
The Republican plan, referred to as the "Framework to Stop the Bias and Check Big Tech," calls for a system of transparency, which would be implemented "by mandating that any Big Tech content moderation decisions or censorship must be listed, with specificity, on a publicly available website."
The last part of the plan addresses concerns of monopolistic practices. As an example, McCarthy claimed that Amazon, Apple and Google "use their platforms to tip the scales towards higher fees and their growing product lines," and that "just about every big technology company" copies products if they are made by competitors that they cannot just acquire.
"We will provide an expedited court process with direct appeal to the Supreme Court and empower state attorneys general to help lead the charge against the tech giants to break them up," McCarthy said. "We will also reform the administrative state and remove impediments that delay taking action on Big Tech power."
Both parties have taken steps to rein in tech giants, but McCarthy claimed that his Democratic counterparts have not sufficiently addressed the problems, and have only exacerbated the situation.
"House Democrats have advanced a plan that not only ignores addressing conservative censorship, it makes it worse," McCarthy said. "And their plan empowers a federal bureaucracy with no accountability."
Meanwhile, as leaders in Washington look to go after the tech companies, experts have warned of the unintended consequences of passing sweeping antitrust legislation.
"Bills under review, as currently drafted, would condemn outright specified business practices and acquisitions by big digital platforms, without any inquiry into the facts on hand," former Federal Trade Commission (FTC) general counsel and Mercatus Center senior research fellow Alden Abbott said in a Thursday statement. "As such, they would outlaw and disincentivize a great deal of behavior that may benefit consumers and drive innovation."
Abbott added that the bills would "turn enforcers into regulators," which would slow innovation and spawn "economic inefficiency, to the detriment of the American economy."
Fox Business' Audrey Conklin and Megan Henney contributed to this report.