29 Republican Senators Seek Action Against ‘Big Tech’ Over Free Speech Concerns

Des Moines, Iowa — Iowa Senate President Jake Chapman says if a court rules companies like Facebook and Google have illegally stifled the free speech of Iowans, those companies should lose all state and local tax breaks.

(as said) “We have seen over recent months in particular where ‘big tech’ is censoring Americans and even Iowans from being able to express their views and opinions,” Chapman says.

Facebook and Google have data centers — so-called server farms — in Iowa. Chapman says those companies were awarded tax credits and property tax exemptions, plus a big break on electricity.

(as said) “These are some of the largest consumers of energy here in Iowa and they’re exempted from paying sales tax on those utilities,” Chapman says. “…They have a choice to make. They can respect Iowans and respect our ability to voice our opinions or they can forego these special tax breaks.”

Chapman, a Republican from Adel, is the lead sponsor of a bill targeting internet sites and digital marketplaces with at least 20 million subscribers or members that block what Iowans may post online. That means the bill could impact Google, Amazon and Apple for blocking Parler, a Twitter-like app promoted by conservatives. The companies made the decision, citing Parler content encouraging violence. Amazon is rebuilding a warehouse in Bondurant. Apple is set to receive 200-million dollars in state and local tax breaks for a data center in Waukee — a site that’s in Chapman’s senate district. Chapman says companies like Apple are operating social media platforms that have become the public square and therefore have a responsibility to allow unrestricted speech.

(as said) “When you have these big tech companies arbitrarily deciding what’s going to be shown, what’s not going to be shown, I think that is extremely dangerous,” Chapman says.

Twenty-eight other Republicans in the Senate have signed on to co-sponsor Chapman’s bill. However, Majority Leader Jack Whitver of Ankeny, the top Republican in the Senate, is not among them.

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