House Appropriations Committee Moves to Safeguard Online Free Speech

By Lawson Faulkner

The House Appropriations Committee recently approved three national security bills for FY 2025, all of which include strong free speech protections for social media users. At a time when freedom of speech online is under threat and the Supreme Court is punting on enforcing the First Amendment, House Republicans are working to ensure that every American can exercise their rights within the digital ecosystem.

On Tuesday, lawmakers approved the following legislation for consideration by the full House:

· The Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2025 (H.R. 8752)

· The Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2025 (H.R. 8771)

· The Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2025 (H.R. 8774)

Within each bill, House Republicans included key provisions securing freedom of speech. These bills ensure that taxpayer revenue will not be used to suppress constitutionally protected discourse.

For instance, House Republicans supported American values by banning ”disinformation” and “misinformation” programs that violate the free speech rights of American citizens through the FY 2025 FSOPs bill.

Similarly, lawmakers have moved to prohibit the federal government from labeling constitutionally protected speech as “misinformation” and imposing a penalty of termination for such action under the FY 2025 Homeland Security bill. This mirrors the Protecting Speech from Government Interference Act that the House passed last year but the Senate has refused to take up.

Lastly, the FY 2025 Defense bill offered provisions against private contracting with anti-free speech businesses. The legislation would prohibit the allocation of taxpayer revenue to non-compliant organizations such as NewsGuard Technologies Inc, a “fact-checking” organization known for targeting opponents of the Biden Administration as “disinformation.”

As Digital Liberty has previously noted, the Biden administration’s full court press on censorship has disproportionately affected conservatives for years. Throughout his tenure, Biden’s White House has “deployed jawboning in unprecedented ways to spread their preferred, partisan messaging on divisive political matters.”

Without critical free speech protections, this executive assault against opposition voices will continue to pollute the ideals of the digital town square. Recent developments in Canada offer a daunting glimpse into a world where the federal government is the sole arbiter of legitimate speech. Following the passage of the Online Streaming Act, online content creators have fallen under the arbitrary authority of the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). As Digital Liberty has previously highlighted, “if the government has an arbitrary conception of content that represents Canadian ideas, it may censor any ideas on radio, television, and now online, contradicting that perspective.” If the Biden administration had its way, crucial channels for political discourse would surely begin to resemble that of our neighbors to the north.

These disconcerting trends make the recent work of House Republicans all the more important. By safeguarding the sanctity of free speech, lawmakers will ensure that taxpayer money is not used to suppress every flavor of political discourse. In an era of mounting hostility towards free speech online, these statutory protections cannot come at a more needed time.