Bipartisan House Bill Wants Algorithm-Free Tech Option

Bipartisan House Bill Wants Algorithm-Free Tech Option an iphone lays on an imac keyboard with big tech application icons showing on the touch screen (Dreamstime)

By Jeffrey Rodack | Tuesday, 09 November 2021 11:15 AM

A bill aimed at permitting people to use algorithm-free tech platforms has been introduced by a group of bipartisan House members, Axios is reporting.

The bill is a companion to proposed legislation in the Senate.

The House bill is sponsored by Reps. Ken Buck, R-Colo., David Cicilline D-R.I., Lori Trahan, D-Mass., and Burgess Owens R-Utah.

It would require internet platforms to allow people to use a version of their service that is not dictated by algorithms, Axios said.

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., is sponsoring the Senate bill.

The lawmakers maintain algorithms violate users' privacy by personalizing content on social networks and other apps, Axios noted. And conservatives have claimed the social media giants censor their speech.

"Consumers should have the option to engage with internet platforms without being manipulated by secret algorithms driven by user-specific data," Buck said.

And Cicilline said: "Facebook and other dominant platforms manipulate their users through opaque algorithms that prioritize growth and profit over everything else. And due to these platforms' monopoly power and dominance, users are stuck with few alternatives to this exploitative business model, whether it is in their social media feed, on paid advertisements, or in their search results."

The bills come after former Facebook data scientist Frances Haugen said the social media company is making online hate and extremism worse.

Haugen told U.K. lawmakers last month how Facebook Groups amplifies online hate, according to The Associated Press. She argued algorithms that prioritize engagement take people with mainstream interests and push them to the extremes.

Meanwhile, Axios noted Buck and Thune expect to work together on tech and antitrust issues.

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