Twitter permanently banned Donald Trump for repeatedly violating its terms of service.
The newly elected president of the American Legislative Exchange Council said in an interview published by the Salt Lake Tribune on Thursday that the group would pursue legislation in multiple states that would force social media companies to allow politicians to continue to use their services even if they violate their terms of service.
Republican Utah Senate President Stuart Adams was recently chosen to lead ALEC, a group of right-wing governmental and private sector figures that provides model legislation for state lawmakers to use in putting together legislation. He told the Tribune that he hopes to assist enough states in passing bills that would impose regulations on social media companies and thereby put pressure on the companies to negotiate their terms of service at the state and federal levels.
Adams told the Tribune, "Both Republicans and Democrats should be concerned about free speech and the ability to have your ideas expressed online. The private sector controls so much online that it's really concerning when they get to decide what gets heard and what doesn't. ... Hopefully, we can come up with a workable solution."
Twitter removed Donald Trump from its platform in January after he posted videos telling supporters who had stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, "We love you" and falsely proclaiming that he had won a "landslide" in the 2020 presidential election against Joe Biden. Twitter said that Trump had violated its terms and that he presented a "risk of further incitement of violence."
In March, under Adams' leadership, the Utah legislature passed a bill, ultimately vetoed by Republican Gov. Spencer Cox, that specified how tech companies must handle their internal decisions over which users to ban and also mandated an appeals process for those users. The legislation would also have involved the state attorney general in decisions about banning users and given that office the power to levy fines against the companies.
ALEC has a long history of working with private groups and with lawmakers to create laws reflecting right-wing interests.
In 2005, the group worked with the NRA in Florida to pass the first of the so-called "stand your ground laws," which allow the use of deadly force by a person who claims to feel threatened. The principles of that law were asserted repeatedly in the defense of George Zimmerman, who killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2013 in the state.
ALEC also worked to pass voter ID laws in multiple states. Voter ID laws have repeatedly been shown to disproportionately suppress the vote among Black and Latino voters, key supporting blocs for the Democratic Party.
It also has assisted in the passage of laws designed to restrict immigration, privatize prisons and advance "tough on crime" statues, and eliminate regulations meant to reduce pollution by private companies.
Since Trump was removed from Twitter, Republicans in Congress have repeatedly lashed out at tech companies, while at the state level they have pursued regulation despite the warnings of critics that none of the proposed legislation would pass muster on First Amendment grounds.
In Florida, led by Gov. Ron DeSantis, Republicans in the legislature have promoted a measure that would impose fines on tech companies for banning politicians.
Texas Republicans are also pursuing legislation that would prevent tech companies from banning or demonetizing users even if they incite violence.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.