“Either Montana government will regulate Big Tech, or Big Tech will regulate montana government. Take your pick.” – JD Hall, Gideon Knox Group, in testifying to the House Technology Committee
Sen. Manzella (SD44) set herself to work picking up the pieces after similar bills were narrowly defeated – literally by a single vote – in the Montana House. Yet Manzella, with a robust presence in social media, recognizes how readily Big Tech companies throttle free speech – both of her’s and her constituents.
Right now, most presume that there’s nothing that can be done on the state level to stop Big Tech censorship, with claims that “it’s a private company” or “you signed terms of service” purporting to transcend the United States Constitution. Citizens cannot sign away their constitutional liberties (that’s impossible), and Section 230 of the Decency in Communications Act – which gifts Big Tech monopolies the ability to be immune to lawsuits relating to what they choose to publish – means that there’s no recourse for citizens who have been wronged.
And technically, the critics are right. Currently, there is no system of Due Process for Americans (a constitutional right in both the 5th and 14th Amendments) to determine if and when a citizen’s rights were violated by Big Tech. However, Montana has the perfect department of government, already overseeing Communications Utilities under state law, that can serve as regulatory judges in disputes between Big Tech and the Montanans they censor.
The Montana Public Service Commission was created in 1907 to ensure that railroad companies weren’t behaving prejudicially toward some Montanans and to ensure that equal treatment was being given to everyone throughout the state by the rail-lines, regardless of economic, religious, or political persuasion.
It seems, therefore, that the PSC would be the idea department to make sure that Big Tech is providing equal treatment to their consumers regardless of economic, religious, or political persuasion. And thankfully, we know that the Public Service Commission is in majority agreement of SB391.
Voting for a measure to support Manzell’s SB391 was Randy Pinocci – a driving force behind a similar measure of Brad Tschida’s that failed by a singular vote case by left-drifting Casey Knudsen – Jennifer Fielder, and Tony O’Donnell.
Two other commissioners, James Brown and Brad Johnson, voted to leave Big Tech customers to the wolves, unprotected and without a system of due process to petition the government for grievances. But with three of five Public Service Commissioners on board, it’s time for the legislature to move forward.