You might as well call it death by a thousand paper cuts. That’s basically what is happening. In case you’ve missed it, even though Congress has had a multitude of hearings over the past few years on whether to regulate Big Tech or not, nothing has happened. Of course, not much has happened in this Congress at all. But still, Big Tech has managed to kick the ball further down the road, and it could end up costing them billions.
There are currently 18 states, all Republican led, that are considering bills that basically say that if Big Tech silences one of their state’s residents’ freedom of speech, then that person has the right to sue that company in state court. That eliminates a LOT of problems for the consumer because typically those battles would be waged in Federal Courts. And Federal Courts cost a bundle more than state courts do to litigate anything. Typically, you’re looking at a minimum legal bill of $30,000 to take anything to a Federal Court. That all changes if these bills pass.
So, what is going to happen to Big Tech? I think you’re going to see some changes. First of all, they are going to challenge whether or not a state can actually hear such a case in state court, or whether it needs to go to the federal jurisdiction (as would most cases that arise between parties in two states). Second, if the tech companies lose that round, they will make whatever tweeks in their terms of service that say you have to go through an arbitration process or can only take it to a federal court if that doesn’t work. However, as we’ve seen with several “signs” posted in businesses, and also in terms of service, just because you post something there doesn’t make it necessarily legal.
Lastly, you better believe the Supreme Court will most likely be the ultimate deciding factor in this matter. Both Democrats and Republicans, but for differing reasons, think that Big Tech has gone too far and needs to be regulated. Republicans want to see less violations of someone’s freedom of speech, and Democrats are all about regulating businesses into submission.
Either way, it should be interesting to see what happens up the road. Currently, no state has actually passed one of these bills, and you’d better believe Big Tech is already lining up their attorneys to do battle. Or, maybe they are already on the phone calling Elon Musk, to ask him if he wants to buy out THEIR company. Wouldn’t that be a hoot?
Carry on world…you’re dismissed!