New laws to curb social media and self-regulatory laws to regulate it, state lawmaker says
State Rep. J.D. “Matt” Jones, R-Westminster, has proposed a bill that would create a self-regulated state to help streamline social media regulation and ensure self-censorship.
Jones’ proposal, sponsored by Rep. Jim Hightower, R.I., would require that state regulators issue a certificate of registration to social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook and require that any social media service provider that distributes content that violates state laws and the rules of the Internet Association “be liable for any damages caused by the distribution of such content.”
Hightower said in a statement that the bill would help ensure the public’s right to access information, but also that it would allow for greater transparency of what the government is doing to protect public safety.
The bill, which has not yet been referred to the House, would require social media companies to issue a digital certificate of ownership to their sites that would include information about who owns the site, who owns each page and the names of all the individuals who are in control of the content.
Companies would be required to maintain this certificate for the life of the website.
Social media sites that are not accredited, which would be known as “no-account” platforms, could not register for the new registration, and social media sites would be allowed to remain private for as long as they did not receive a certificate, the bill states.
The legislation, if passed, would also require social sites to be audited by the state in order to verify their compliance with the state’s standards.
The state could also impose fines on companies that failed to comply with the requirements, Jones said.
In a statement, Hightowers office said, “We believe that our state needs to create a new regulatory environment to provide consumers more control over their online behaviors and help ensure that their private data remains private and secure.
We are confident that the House will work with us to address these issues, and we look forward to working with the Senate to pass this important legislation this fall.”
Jones said he has been a supporter of the bill for some time.
He said in an interview with ESPN.com that he wants to ensure that the public has the right to be able to access social media, but that the state can regulate social media providers as well as private companies to protect the public from a wide variety of risks and threats.