Last week, President Trump unveiled a new policy platform aimed at combating censorship and protecting free speech online. In a video posted to his Truth Social account, Trump outlined a series of steps he would take if elected president once again to address the issue of censorship by both government agencies and tech companies.
The policy platform involves a number of proposals, including revising Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, implementing a “cooling-off period” for former government agency employees before they can join tech companies with access to large amounts of US user data, and establishing a “digital bill of rights.”
Trump outlined five specific steps he plans to take to secure free speech: signing an executive order prohibiting federal agencies from collaborating with organizations or businesses to censor lawful speech by American citizens, investigating and aggressively prosecuting any crimes related to the censorship regime, revising Section 230 to increase standards of neutrality and fairness for tech companies, breaking up the “toxic censorship industry,” and implementing a cooling-off period for former intelligence officials joining tech companies.
Trump also called for the creation of a new independent agency, the Free Speech Authority, which would be responsible for enforcing the new regulations and investigating and prosecuting any violations. In addition to these policy proposals, Trump announced a series of initiatives to support freedom of expression, including a technology platform called the Freedom of Expression Network and a new website for hosting debates and discussions on free speech issues.
Trump has made it clear that protecting free speech is a top priority. This policy platform represents a significant step forward in the fight to defend freedom of expression online. It is up to the American people to ensure that these new regulations are enforced and that the internet remains a place where all voices can be heard.
Here is what Trump said are the five steps to secure free speech:
First, within hours of my inauguration, I will sign an executive order banning any federal department or agency from colluding with any organization, business, or person to censor, limit, categorize, or impede the lawful speech of American citizens. I will then ban federal money from being used to label domestic speech as “mis-” or “disinformation.” And I will begin the process of identifying and firing every federal bureaucrat who has engaged in domestic censorship, directly or indirectly, whether they are the Department of Homeland security, the Department of Health and Human Services, the FBI, the DOJ — no matter who they are.
Second, I will order the Department of Justice to investigate all parties involved in the new online censorship regime, which is absolutely destructive and terrible, and to aggressively prosecute any and all crimes identified. These include possible violations of federal civil rights law, campaign finance laws, federal election law, securities law and anti-trust laws, the Hatch Act and a host of other potential criminal, civil, regulatory, and constitutional offenses. To assist in these efforts, I am urging House Republicans to immediately send preservation letters, and we have to do this right now, to the Biden Administration, the Biden campaign, and every Silicon Valley tech giant, ordering them not to destroy evidence of censorship.
Third, upon my inauguration as president I will ask Congress to send a bill to my desk revising Section 230, to get big online platforms out of censorship business. From now on, digital platforms should only qualify for immunity protection under Section 230 if they meet high standards of neutrality, transparency, fairness, and nondiscrimination. We should require these platforms to increase their efforts to take down unlawful content such as child exploitation and promoting terrorism, while dramatically curtailing their power to arbitrarily restrict lawful speech.
Fourth, we need to break up the entire toxic censorship industry that has arisen under the false guise of tackling so called “mis-” and “disinformation.” The federal government should immediately stop funding all nonprofits and academic programs that support this authoritarian project. If any U.S. university is discovered to have engaged in censorship activities or election interference in the past, such as flagging social media content for removal or blacklisting, those universities should lose federal research dollars and federal student loan support for a period of five years and maybe more.
We should also enact new laws laying out clear criminal penalties for federal bureaucrats who partner with private entities to do an end-run around the constitution and deprive Americans of their First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment rights — in other words, deprive them of them of their vote. And once you lose those elections, and once you lose your borders like we have, you no longer have a country. Furthermore, to confront the problems of major platforms being infiltrated by legions of former deep staters and intelligence officials, there should be a seven-year cooling off period before any employee of the FBI, CIA, NSA, DNI, DHS, or DOD is allowed to take a job at a company possessing vast quantities of U.S. user data.
Fifth, the time has finally come for Congress to pass a digital bill of rights. This should include a right to digital due process. In other words, government officials should need a court order to take down online content, not send information requests such as the FBI was sending to Twitter. Furthermore, when users of big online platforms have their content or accounts removed, throttled, shadowbanned, or otherwise restricted no matter what name they use, they should have the right to be informed that it’s happening, the right to a specific explanation of the reason why, and the right to a timely appeal. In addition, all users over the age of 18 should have the right to opt out of content moderation and curation entirely and receive an unmanipulated stream of information if they so choose.
This is definitely what we need to address if we want to preserve our democracy.