Republicans like Sen. Tom Cotton have a message for Big Tech: “Winter is coming.”

That’s what the Arkansas senator said during an interview on the New Hampshire Journal podcast, in response to recent high-profile examples of censorship by major social media companies like Twitter and Facebook.

“[T]hese big tech companies have unprecedented immunity from legal liability for what goes up on their platforms,” Cotton said. And they enjoy that immunity thanks to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act passed in 1996.

“No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider,” the section reads. As a result, platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Google can’t be sued or held responsible for the content you find there the way a newspaper or TV station can.

Intended to protect free expression on the internet by shielding internet companies from liability for the content of users’ posts, it helped shape and form the internet as we know it today.

Traditionally, the political Right has supported these protections in the name of both smaller government and free speech, while their progressive counterparts have embraced restrictions on speech like campus “safe zones,” speech codes and so-called “trigger warnings.”

But Republicans have begun to re-think their free-market approach as they see conservative content being treated differently than content from the left.  “Republicans feel that big tech has been suppressing conservative voices for a long time,” Sen. Cotton tells NHJournal. “I think they feel like open war has been declared.”

The fight flared into a political firestorm after Twitter and Facebook suppressed a controversial New York Post story detailing emails allegedly found on Hunter Biden’s laptop showing a meeting between then-Vice President Joe Biden and a Ukrainian energy executive. Biden has long denied such a meeting ever occurred.

Rather than allowing consumers to decide how to handle this information, these Big Tech companies tried to prevent the stories from being shared. Twitter went so far as to shut down the Twitter feed of the New York Post — the nation’s fourth-largest newspaper — and even the Trump campaign account, less than three weeks before an election.

Republican leaders on the Senate Judiciary Committee responded with promises of a subpoena of Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO, and Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder.

“This is election interference,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told reporters. “Never before have we seen active censorship of a major press publication with serious allegations of corruption of one of the two candidates for president.

The subpoena would have Dorsey and Zuckerberg appear before the Judiciary Committee as early as this week, but FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is already moving on new rulemaking to clarify the law.

In September, the US Department of Justice released a proposed reform of Section 230. The department claims the reforms will promote open discourse and greater transparency in the spirit of fairness.

“For too long, Section 230 has provided a shield for online platforms to operate with impunity,” said U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr.

“We therefore urge Congress to make these necessary reforms to Section 230 and begin to hold online platforms accountable both when they unlawfully censor speech and when they knowingly facilitate criminal activity online,” said Barr.

NHGOP congressional candidate Matt Mowers agrees. “If they want to act like they’re the New York Times, if they want to start determining what’s on their platforms, then they should be regulated the same way the New York Times is.”

“They’re trying to have the best of both worlds right now. That’s just not fair,” Mowers told NHJournal. “It’s not the way the system was set up.”

Conservative congressmen and women from around the country have invigorated the call for reform of Section 230.

Republican leaders on the Senate Judiciary Committee have promised a subpoena of Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO, and Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder.

The subpoena would have Dorsey and Zuckerberg appear before the Judiciary Committee as early as this week, but FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is already moving on new rulemaking to clarify the law.

Even former Vice President Joe Biden took a harsh stance against Section 230 in a New York Times editorial board interview. Biden said it “should be immediately revoked.”

Click to listen to NH Journal pod podcast