U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman in Austin ruled on Friday, Oct. 22, that the Texas attorney general can go after Big Tech over potential infringement of the Lone Star State’s statute against political censorship, as Bloomberg reported.
Judge Robert Pitman accepted that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton could access internal documents and depose staff at NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association.
The two trade groups represent big tech giants, including Google, Twitter, Facebook, and others.
Paxton can do so on the condition that the employees are found liable to House Bill 20, legislation expected to go into effect as soon as Dec. 2 this year.
House Bill 20 demands Big Tech companies publish information about content removal and account bans twice a year. The platforms must also set up an easily accessible complaint system where users can report law infractions.
Companies that violate the regulations may be subject to a civil lawsuit or action by the attorney general.
The trade groups opposed the bill, arguing the Lone Star State’s bill will also keep them from sifting extremist content. They added that Paxton’s granted ability would “further antagonize” the law’s targets.
The groups had sought to block the law in late September, according to Texas Tribune.
The measure, however, is welcome by Republicans as it is expected to protect conservative voices from being censored on these sites.
Former President Donald Trump—a Republican—had become a lead target, especially after the Jan. 6 Capitol incident.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) praised HB 20 for putting a halt to Big Tech from working to “silence conservative ideas.”
He responded to the Friday ruling on Twitter:
“Texas passed a law prohibiting Facebook, Twitter & Google from removing conservative viewpoints. They sued us,” he wrote. “Now, a federal judge will let Texas seek internal documents about how they moderate content.”
“It’s about to get interesting,” he added.