Yes, Montana Can Regulate Big Tech Censorship. Here’s How…


It seems like insurmountable odds, doesn’t it? How can a state with only one million residents make a dent in the censorship machine of Big Tech corporations that have more money and power than most First World nations?

For example, Apple makes more money than the Russian government, Facebook is richer than Austria, Microsoft is worth more than Mexico, and Amazon is wealthier than Australia. And all of those companies dwarf the collective wealth of Montana’s public coffers. And – to our detriment – these companies are more hell-bent on censorship than North Korea and China. What can we really do about it?

The advance of totalitarian censorship actually creates a wonderful opportunity for Montana to shine. Our ‘get’r done’ mentality, unique laws, and conservative principles make the Big Sky State an ideal place to form a healthy resistance to Big Tech’s monopolization of our free speech.

Randy Pinocci

The idea of regulating Big Tech was first proposed by Rep. Lola Sheldon-Galloway in the legislature with two yet-undrafted bills, and by Randy Pinocci (left) in the Public Service Commission. Their proposal to use the PSC to regulate Big Tech utilities is novel, but other states are attempting to rein in Big Tech’s stranglehold on American voices in other ways. But from all perspectives, it seems that their goal is fully possible. Additionally, reports are abounding that other Helena movers-and-shakers are behind the effort in full moral support.

But, as Randy Pinocci pointed out in his op-ed on the subject of tech censorship, it will take the grassroots to do more than provide moral support, but to ring their legislators and insist on being protected by large, international companies who are profit-motivated to silence Montana voices.

A bill in North Dakota, HB1144, has been proposed that will open up Big Tech companies to liability in the event they censor the views of their customers. Other states, such as Arizona and Wyoming, are also attempting to mitigate the dangers of Big Tech’s monopoly, both through their state houses and also by their attorneys general. It’s good to know that Montana is not alone.

The Big Sky Public Policy Institute issued a memorandum earlier today, providing a helpful FAQ on whether or not such proposals will pass the muster of constitutionality. It seems they do.

The Institute asks…

Q. Does the Public Service Commission really have to the capacity to regulate Big Tech?

A. Absolutely. Title 69, Chapter 3, Part 2 of Montana’s Annotated Code explicitly gives the PSC the responsibility to regulate utilities. All the PSC needs to regulate Big Tech utilities is for the legislature to officially designate them as a utility. By all accounts, Big Tech companies that provide the nation its Internet and Internet sevices qualify as utilities.

And again…

Q. Can a state government intervene on this matter, considering Section 230 is a federal law?

A. Yes. In fact, states are welcome to intervene in such matters, according to Section 230 – the very law that shields Big Tech from liability. Clause (e)3 of Section 230 explicitly says, “Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent any State from enforcing any State law that is consistent with this section.”

In regard to lawsuits for censorship…

Q. Does 42 U.S. Code 1983 prohibit legal action against Big Tech censoring free speech rights of Citizens?

A. No. It’s quite the opposite. This law actually prohibits Internet utilities and other private corporations from the deprivation of any individual’s rights and liberties. This law states that if such censorship happens the company, “shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or another proper proceeding for redress.”

You can read the memo from the Big Sky Public Policy Institute here.

Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see how Rep. Sheldon-Galloway’s bills unfold in coming days. There are many creative options to protect Montanans against unfair censorship, if only legislators would think out-of-the-box and ignore the comfort provided by the status quo.

Watch this matter be discussed on Montana Gazette Radio with Jim White below.


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