(LifeSiteNews) — Former President Donald Trump unveiled one of his first major 2024 policy proposals Thursday, a plan to stop government collusion with private companies to suppress online political speech.
“If we don’t have free speech, then we just don’t have a free country. It’s as simple as that. If this most fundamental right is allowed to perish, then the rest of our rights and liberties will topple just like dominoes, one by one. They’ll go down,” Trump said. “That’s why today I’m announcing my plan to shatter the left-wing censorship regime and to reclaim the right to free speech for all Americans, and reclaim is a very important word in this case because they’ve taken it away.”
BREAKING: President Trump announces free speech policy plan for 2024! pic.twitter.com/66VBvXy7t0
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) December 15, 2022
Trump said that among his first acts upon taking office again would be to 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,” banning “federal money from being used to label domestic speech as mis or disinformation,” and “identifying and firing every federal bureaucrat who has engaged in domestic censorship directly or indirectly.”
He then pledged a federal investigation of “all parties involved in the new online censorship regime” for “possible violations of federal civil rights law, campaign finance laws, federal election law, securities law, and antitrust laws” and urged Congress to pass legislation revising Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act, which exempts internet companies from liability for the content third parties publish on their websites, so that platforms only qualify “if they meet high standards of neutrality, transparency, fairness, and non-discrimination” as well as increase efforts to “take down unlawful content such as child exploitation and promoting terrorism.”
In the past, the Biden administration has openly admitted to urging social media companies to take down specific content on the grounds of supposedly constituting “misinformation” about COVID-19. It now denies being involved in censorship decisions more broadly, something about which many conservatives remain suspicious.
Next, Trump called for ending federal funding for any nonprofit or academic institution involved in censorship or election interference, enacting 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,” and imposing a “seven-year cooling-off period before any employee of the FBI, CIA, NSA, DHS, or DOD is allowed to take a job at a company possessing vast quantities of US user data.”
Finally, the former president called on Congress to pass a “digital bill of rights,” including provisions that government officials cannot have online content removed without a court order, that platform users have a right to be notified of and appeal actions taken against them, and that all adult users have a right to “opt out of content moderation and curation entirely.”
The contents of Trump’s proposal received broad praise from conservatives, though some questioned why he didn’t pursue it during his presidency, despite online censorship of conservatives being a pressing issue since 2017.
Really glad Trump used the phrase “digital bill of rights”—it’s the only thing that addresses the fact that the biggest big tech companies and social media networks constitute the public square, and control participation in civic and economic life. https://t.co/kMsLAxobYn
— David Reaboi, Late Republic Nonsense (@davereaboi) December 15, 2022
“Here’s a bunch of stuff I didn’t do when I was POTUS, vote for me and I’ll do it this time I promise.”
— Cernovich (@Cernovich) December 15, 2022
The announcement was somewhat overshadowed by the former president’s “major announcement” two hours earlier of a line of digital trading cards of himself for $99 apiece, which drew widespread mockery online. But the virtual collectibles (profits from which did not go to the Trump campaign) were a financial success, selling out in less than 24 hours.
So far, Trump is the only confirmed candidate for the Republican Party’s next presidential nomination. He is expected to face stiff competition from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has not yet announced.