New Bill Proposal Aims to Create an Intimate Partnership Between the Corporate Press and Big Tech

According to Didi Rankovic of Reclaim the Net, a new bill was introduced in the United States Congress, featuring an amendment to the Journalism and Competition Preservation Act JCPA that has “the goal of providing a temporary safe harbor for online publishers to collectively negotiate the terms on which content may be distributed by Big Tech platforms.”

The “temporary safe harbor” provision in this bill would grant broadcast, digital, and print media outlets an eight-year grace period from having to follow antitrust laws.

One curious aspect of this legislation is that it enjoys bipartisan backing. Rankovic pointed out that the bill has the support of Democratic and Republican members of both the House and the Senate such as “David Cicilline, Ken Buck, Jerry Nadler, as well as Amy Klobuchar, John Kennedy, and Dick Durbin.”

Rankovic observed that this isn’t the first time similar legislative efforts have been made in the US Congress. 

She added that “One of the main takeaways from the revised JCPA is the size of media companies that would benefit from it – they can have no more than 1,500 full-time employees.” 

For Big Tech platforms such as Facebook and Google, they must have a minimum of 50 million users or subscribers in the US, at least a billion users or subscribers across the globe, and a market cap exceeding $550 billion, when adjusted for inflation, in order to be covered by the bill. 

Under the JCPA, Big Tech giants would be compelled to link to new outlets and pay them. Big Tech would also be barred from engaging in “discriminatory” or retaliatory actions against digital journalism outlets.

If platforms or entities believe violations have taken place, the bill grants them the power to file lawsuits.

Rankovic outlined how outlets must operate under this bill:

Outlets (broadcasters – minus TV networks – digital journalism providers, publishers, network stations, online platforms) eligible under the revised bill must, among other things, have an editorial process in place and be engaged in activities such as creating, producing, and distributing original content, covering local, regional, national, and international affairs, and updating their content at least once a week.

A copy of this bill can be found here.

Any time a bipartisan proposal gains steam in Congress, one should always be skeptical of what’s contained inside of it. When the ruling class agrees upon something, you know something bad is afoot.

America First should avoid the pro-business reflex that is characteristic of average Republicans. Nationalists should always keep tabs on what Congress is doing with regards to Big Tech and the broader Internet ecosystem.

The Internet is one of the last venues for freedom where individuals and groupings of people can freely exchange ideas. A reasonable America First policy would consist of crafting legislation and legal norms that keep the Internet free from the grasp of corporate and state actors. 

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