|FROM ||Ruben Safir
|SUBJECT ||Re: [Hangout - NYLXS] isp immunity under threat...
Democrats, for their part, say GOP accusations of political bias by tech
companies are unfounded, pointing out that conservative content is
widely available on Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms. But they
agree Section 230 needs review, and top Democrats on Capitol Hill have
said they plan to discuss the matter in the coming months.
Mr. Biden called in January for revoking Section 230 altogether, though
he hasn’t outlined if or how he would replace it.
On 9/23/20 8:36 AM, Ruben Safir wrote:
> WSJ News Exclusive | DOJ to Seek Congressional Curbs on Immunity for
> Internet Companies
> Ryan Tracy and Brent Kendall
> 8-9 minutes
> WASHINGTON—The Justice Department will submit a proposal to Congress on
> Wednesday to curb longstanding legal protections for internet companies
> such as Facebook Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Twitter Inc. and force
> them to shoulder more responsibility for managing content on their
> sites, a senior department official said.
> The proposal advances two main goals the Trump administration and the
> department outlined in June: encouraging online platforms to actively
> address illicit conduct and manage content on their sites in fair and
> consistent ways.
> The department refined its proposal in the intervening months based on
> feedback from market participants and other stakeholders such as
> victims’ rights groups. As a result of that process, the department made
> some changes, including clarifying that internet companies would have
> immunity when they take down material that promotes violent extremism or
> self-harm, the official said.
> President Trump is also scheduled to discuss “protecting consumers from
> social media abuses” at a meeting Wednesday with state attorneys
> general, according to the White House.
> While the legislation is unlikely to pass during a busy and contentious
> election year, Congress could take up the proposal or others like it
> next year. Both Democrats and Republicans say they want to review the
> legal protections internet companies enjoy, though they have differing
> A tweet by President Trump in May was flagged by Twitter as inciting
> Photo: Jaap Arriens/Zuma Press
> Mr. Trump and GOP lawmakers have complained about what they say are
> biased decisions to censor social-media posts or block certain users.
> Democrats, including presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe
> Biden, say platforms need to do more to curb the spread of false
> Both parties worry about the role of online platforms in facilitating
> criminal activity, and that issue is a focus of the Justice Department’s
> proposal. It targets Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of
> 1996, which gives internet platforms broad latitude to police their
> sites and shields them from legal liability related to users’ actions,
> except in relatively narrow circumstances.
> The proposal would remove Section 230 legal immunity when online
> platforms don’t live up to certain standards. For example, they could
> lose legal protections if they facilitate criminal activity or know of
> unlawful conduct but don’t restrict and report it. They could also face
> liability if they don’t spell out content-moderation practices and
> follow them consistently, including by explaining the basis for
> decisions to restrict users’ access.
> The proposal also wouldn’t confer immunity to platforms in cases of
> online child exploitation and sexual abuse, terrorism or cyberstalking.
> Those carve-outs are needed to allow victims to seek redress, the
> department has said.
> The tech industry has opposed efforts to change or repeal Section 230,
> saying it has enabled internet platforms to blossom without fear of
> excessive lawsuits.
> Representatives of Facebook, Twitter and Google testified before the
> Senate a year ago this month.
> Photo: jim lo scalzo/Shutterstock
> “The world before Section 230 was one where platforms faced liability
> for removing things like spam or profanity,” the Internet Association, a
> trade group representing Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc. and others, said in
> June. “The threat of litigation for every content moderation decision
> would hamper IA member companies’ ability to set and enforce community
> guidelines and quickly respond to new challenges.”
> Tech companies also say they don’t manage content based on political
> considerations. This year social-media companies have shifted from a
> hands-off approach to a more active one toward Mr. Trump’s conduct on
> social media. Twitter in May applied a fact-checking notice to a post
> about voter fraud by the president, a first.
> Days later Twitter attached a notice to another post by Mr. Trump about
> violent protests in Minneapolis in response to the killing of George
> Floyd while in police custody. The post violated the company’s rules
> about glorifying violence, the notice said.
> Facebook left untouched a similar post about the protests, calling it
> political speech but later clashed with Mr. Trump when it removed some
> Trump campaign ads and some of the president’s statements about the
> Days after Twitter’s move in May, Mr. Trump signed an executive order
> pushing federal agencies to take a more active role in regulating how
> online platforms police content. The tech industry has said the move
> would exceed the agencies’ authority under current law. The Federal
> Communications Commission is reviewing public comments on that initiative.
> The administration’s moves to target Section 230 don’t have direct
> consequences for social-media companies in the near term. However, the
> actions raise the odds of a future crackdown while also casting Mr.
> Trump as a defender of conservatives against tech firms that Republicans
> say operate with a liberal bias.
> “Online censorship goes far beyond the issue of free speech. It’s also
> one of protecting consumers and ensuring they are informed of their
> rights and resources to fight back under the law,” White House spokesman
> Judd Deere said before the president’s Wednesday meeting with Republican
> state attorneys general. “State attorneys general are on the front lines
> of this issue, and President Trump wants to hear their perspectives.”
> Members of Congress have proposed their own ideas to narrow tech firms’
> legal immunity. A bill introduced earlier this month by three
> influential Republican senators seeks to restrict companies from
> claiming immunity because they deemed content “objectionable,” requiring
> them to instead meet a more specific standard. The Justice Department’s
> proposal has a similar provision.
> Another bipartisan proposal, termed the “EARN IT Act,” could open the
> companies up to lawsuits from survivors of online abuse by giving the
> victims legal recourse if the companies don’t “earn” Section 230
> immunity by following reasonable practices for dealing with harmful content.
> Democrats, for their part, say GOP accusations of political bias by tech
> companies are unfounded, pointing out that conservative content is
> widely available on Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms. But they
> agree Section 230 needs review, and top Democrats on Capitol Hill have
> said they plan to discuss the matter in the coming months.
> Mr. Biden called in January for revoking Section 230 altogether, though
> he hasn’t outlined if or how he would replace it.
> —Alex Leary contributed to this article.
> Write to Ryan Tracy at ryan.tracy-at-wsj.com and Brent Kendall at
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