Republican Lobbyist is Giddy About His New Job as a Big Tech Shill
Allum Bokhari of Breitbart News reported that Bradley Smith, a law professor and former Republican Federal Election Commissioner, will be serving on the board of a new advocacy group tasked with protecting Big Tech companies from substantial social media reforms. Smith headed up the “Institute for Free Speech,” which also tried to protect Big Tech giants from legislative accountability.
Per another report from Bokhari, a new lobbying group “American Edge” is being established with Facebook’s tacit support. The group fills the role of defending Big Tech against Republican and Democrat efforts to check social media’s power.
According to the Washington Post, the group will make the case that Big Tech companies are “essential” to free speech on the Internet.
Smith is one of the Republicans on the board of American Edge and has built a reputation for opposing campaign finance reform. He was the founder of the Institute for Free Speech (previously called the Center for Competitive Politics) following his departure from the FEC. The Institute’s original aim was to advocate against campaign finance reform.
Recently, the Institute for Free Speech has argued that Congress should not modify Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which gives tech companies carte blanche to censor users.
In 2019, the Institute made an assertion that changing Section 230 allegedly “threatens the First Amendment.” The article also recognized that Section 230 gives the power to tech companies to censor their platforms, while contending that the law should not be changed:
Senator Cruz has forgotten, or misrepresents, that Section 230 was created to encourage platforms to remove objectionable content, not to enforce “neutrality.” Had Internet companies simply been treated as publishers, they would have been liable for any illegal content that appeared on their platforms. The only way Internet companies could have avoided liability would be to adopt a completely hands-off approach to content moderation, but this presented its own problems.
Big Tech will continue to have its way as people like Smith gain clout and derail any conversation about holding these companies accountable.