File-Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita speaks during a news conference, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020, in Indianapolis. Content Exchange

(The Center Square) – Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita has launched an investigation into five tech companies, saying they censor content and harm Hoosiers.

Rokita’s investigation is focused on whether Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Twitter limit consumer access to certain content, in particular restricting politically conservative points of view. That manipulation, he said, prevents consumers from making informed choices.

“In a free society, few assets are more important to consumers than access to information and the opportunity to express political viewpoints in meaningful forums,” Rokita said. “It is potentially harmful and unfair for these companies to manipulate content in ways they do not publicly discuss or that consumers do not fully understand.”

In addition to the tech companies, Rokita said he is investigating actions by Vanita Gupta, a nominee by President Joe Biden for associate U.S. attorney general.

Rokita said Gupta told Time magazine she met with Facebook and Twitter executives to urge “more rigorous rules and enforcement.” He also said she said in the article it was important for social media platforms to be “tagging things and taking them down.”

Gupta is a civil rights attorney and the president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. She also served in the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Justice Department from 2014-17 as the chief civil rights prosecutor.

The investigation announcement comes almost a month after the attorney general sent a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos claiming the company abused its market power by pulling a book focused on transgender identity.

In the letter to Bezos, Rokita cited news reports that Amazon pulled Ryan T. Anderson’s book, “When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Movement.” Rokita called the move troubling. He warned he would be watching to see how the companies’ decisions affected the people of Indiana.

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