Rep. James Comer (R-KY), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, has announced the markup of bills aimed at preventing the government from colluding with private companies to censor American citizens.
One of the bills expands the Hatch Act, which prevents federal employees from engaging in political activities, to prevent those same employees from censoring lawful speech. A second bill, introduced by Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), requires all arms of the government to report censorship that took place over the past five years.
Via the House Oversight Committee:
H.R. 140, Protecting Speech from Government Interference Act: This bill, introduced by Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.), expands the Hatch Act—the law prohibiting federal employees from engaging in political activities in their official capacity—to expressly prohibit those same federal employees from censoring lawful speech. The bill prohibits agency employees from using their authority to influence or coerce a private sector platform to censor—including to remove, suppress, restrict, or add disclaimers or alerts to—any lawful speech posted on its platform by a person or entity. It provides an exception for legitimate law enforcement activities reported to Congress for review.
H.R. 1162, Accountability for Government Censorship Act: This bill, to be introduced by Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), requires a government-wide report to Congress of every instance, over the past five years, that a federal agency has communicated with a non-governmental entity for the purpose of removing, suppressing, restricting, or adding disclaimers to lawful speech posted on a platform. The report will include the agency employees that initiated the communication, the targeted platforms, and a justification of the action. Agency compliance with the reporting requirement will be audited by the inspectors general.
“The Biden Administration has eroded Americans’ First Amendment rights by bullying social media companies to censor certain views and news on their platforms,” said Rep. Comer in a statement. “This transparency and accountability are long overdue.”