House GOP takes aim at Big Tech with parent’s rights agenda

House Republicans are eyeing a crackdown on Big Tech as part of a broad push next year to empower parents and families.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the incoming chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, told Fox News Digital that the nation’s biggest technology companies are in for a rude awakening when the GOP-led Congress takes office in January.

“I have heard too many stories, personal stories of parents who have tragically lost their children to fentanyl because of drugs purchased online,” said McMorris Rodgers. “I believe that Big Tech needs to be doing more to crack down on this illegal activity and prevent criminals from exploiting these platforms.”

The Washington Republican said her committee would hold oversight hearings into how drug traffickers and dealers have subverted social media sites like Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat to sell illicit substances. McMorris Rodgers said those hearings would look into drug dealers and how Big Tech is not doing enough to stop them.

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Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., and House Republicans are eyeing a crackdown on Big Tech as part of a broad push to empower parents and families.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., and House Republicans are eyeing a crackdown on Big Tech as part of a broad push to empower parents and families. (Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call Inc. via Getty Images)

McMorris Rodgers said that while the Communications Decency Act of 1996 already requires technology companies to moderate content that is illegal, such as the sale of certain drugs, the federal government is not enforcing the law.

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“They are not being held accountable for these harms,” said the congresswoman. “We need to hold Big Tech accountable, hold the Biden administration accountable.”

Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee are also planning to probe whether Big Tech companies have downplayed or hid studies showing that social media platforms have a negative impact on children.

Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee are also planning to probe whether Big Tech companies have downplayed or hid studies showing that social media platforms have a negative impact on children. (Muhammed Selim Korkutata/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee are also planning to probe whether Big Tech companies have downplayed or hid studies showing that social media platforms have a negative impact on children.

Big Tech CEOs “have testified before the Energy and Commerce [Committee] in the past, but [we believe] they have not been transparent about the impact their platforms have on our children,” said McMorris Rodgers.

The congresswoman said she hopes that further transparency will help parents ensure their children are safe online.

“It’s just not a fair fight right now,” said McMorris Rodgers. “We need to make sure parents have the tools necessary to monitor their kids’ use of social media, so they can put time limits on usage and be notified if their kids might be involved in suspicious activity.”

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Parents and community members attend a Loudoun County, Virginia, school board meeting on June 22, 2021.

Parents and community members attend a Loudoun County, Virginia, school board meeting on June 22, 2021. (Reuters/Evelyn Hockstein/File)

Efforts by Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee are just one part of a larger parental empowerment agenda the newly won GOP House plans to focus on in the next Congress. Much of that agenda is centered around the Parents Bill of Rights, which was unveiled earlier this year by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

McCarthy and allies say the Parents Bill of Rights will increase transparency in education by allowing families to know not only how schools are spending money but also the subjects being taught to children.

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“America’s parents should never be made to feel powerless – they should be empowered and protected when it comes to having an influence in their own children’s education,” said McCarthy.

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