This website will be unavailable from Friday, April 26, 2024 at 6:00 p.m. through Monday, April 29, 2024 at 7:00 a.m. due to data center maintenance.

 
 
  By: Hughes S.B. No. 2373
 
 
 
   
 
 
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
 
AN ACT
  relating to a cause of action for political or religious censorship
  of speech by a social media website.
         BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
         SECTION 1.  Title 4, Civil Practice and Remedies Code, is
  amended by adding Chapter 73A to read as follows:
  CHAPTER 73A. CENSORSHIP OF ONLINE SPEECH
         Sec. 73A.01.  DEFINITIONS.  In this chapter:
               (1)  "Algorithm" means a set of instructions designed
  to perform a specific task.
               (2)  "Hate speech" means a phrase concerning content
  that a person finds offensive based on his or her personal moral
  code.
               (3)  "Obscene" means content that to the average
  person, applying contemporary community standards, the dominant
  theme of the material taken as a whole appeals to prurient interest,
  and lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific
  value.
               (4)  "Political speech" means speech relating to the
  state, government, body politic, public administration, or
  government policymaking, including speech by the government or
  candidates for office, and any speech relating to social issues.  
  The term does not include speech concerning the administration of
  or the law relating to the civil aspects of government.
               (5)  "Social media website" means a website or
  application that enables users to communicate with each other by
  posting information, comments, messages, or images and that:
                           (i)  is open to the public;
                           (ii)  has more than seventy-five million
  users; and
                           (iii)  has not been specifically affiliated
  with any one religion or political party from its inception.
         Sec. 73A.02.  CAUSE OF ACTION.  A social media website user
  may bring a cause of action against the owner or operator of a
  social media website with users in this state if the social media
  website purposely:
               (1)  censors a social media website user's religious or
  political speech; or
               (2)  uses an algorithm to suppress religious or
  political speech.
         Sec. 73A.03. DEFENSE. (a)  It is a defense to a cause of
  action brought under this section that the censored speech calls
  for immediate acts of violence, is obscene or pornographic in
  nature, was censored as a result of operational error, was censored
  as a result of a court order, came from a inauthentic source or
  involved false impersonation, incited criminal conduct, or
  involved minors bullying minors.
         (b)  It is not a defense to a cause of action brought under
  this section that the social media website user's speech was hate
  speech.
         Sec. 73A.04. DAMAGES. (a) A social media website user may be
  awarded damages not to exceed $75,000 for each purposeful censoring
  or suppression of the social media user's speech.
         (b)  A social media website user may recover reasonable
  attorney's fees and costs incurred in bringing the action.
         SECTION 2.  This Act applies only to a claim that arises on
  or after the effective date of this Act.  A claim that arises before
  the effective date of this Act is governed by the law in effect at
  that time, and that law is continued in effect for that purpose.
         SECTION 3.  This Act takes effect September 1, 2019.