Jun 16 2022
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) and more than 20 other senators in introducing the Political Bias In Algorithm Sorting (BIAS) Emails Act. The legislation would prohibit email services like Google from using algorithms that are biased against conservatives while increasing transparency for political campaigns using these Big Tech platforms.
“The data show that Google has disregarded their consumers’ interests and targeted private communications to satisfy their own political preferences. This bias hurts Google’s users and erodes free speech on the platform. Our bill would require Big Tech platforms to submit transparency reports to make sure email service providers aren’t forcing their political bias onto unsuspecting users,” said Kennedy.
The bill comes after a report from North Carolina State University found that nearly 70 percent of emails from Republican candidates were sent to spam email folders by Google from 2019 to 2020. Google sent fewer than one in 10 emails from Democrat candidates to spam folders during the same time. During that period, Outlook and Yahoo labeled Democrat emails as spam at a marginally higher rate than it did Republican emails.
The BIAS Emails Act would:
- Prohibit large email platforms like Google’s Gmail from using filtering algorithms on emails sent from a political campaign unless the owner or user of the email account took action to apply a label such as spam.
- Require large email platforms to produce quarterly transparency reports noting several items including the number of instances in which emails from political campaigns—both Republican and Democrat campaigns—were flagged as spam.
- Allow political campaigns to request a report on information specific to the individual political campaign including the total number of emails that reached the intended recipient’s primary inbox.
- Require large email platforms to provide political campaigns best practices on steps the campaign can take to increase the number of emails reaching a recipient’s primary inbox.
The bill text is available here.