Republican Senators Back Shielding Internet Firms From Liability for Postings

By | September 9, 2020

Three Republican U.S. senators on Tuesday introduced the latest legislation targeting a federal law that largely exempts tech platforms such as Facebook and Twitter from legal liability for the material their users post.

The bill from Senator Roger Wicker, who chairs the Senate Committee on Commerce; Senator Lindsey Graham, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and Senator Marsha Blackburn, who sits on both committees, is titled the ‘Online Freedom and Viewpoint Diversity Act.’

There are mounting calls to reform Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act. Lawmakers have complained about Big Tech’s content moderation decisions and the legal immunity the companies enjoy has come under severe scrutiny.

“For too long, social media platforms have hidden behind Section 230 protections to censor content that deviates from their beliefs,” Wicker said in a statement.

Graham aired similar concerns, saying social media companies routinely censor content considered valid political speech.

In a tweet early on Tuesday, President Donald Trump urged Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to repeal the legal shield.

“Why does Twitter leave phony pictures like this up, but take down Republican/Conservative pictures and statements that are true? Mitch must fight back and repeal Section 230, immediately. Stop biased Big Tech before they stop you!,” Trump said, referring to an image that transposed McConnell’s face onto that of a Russian guard in Moscow’s Red Square.

In May, Trump signed an executive order that seeks new regulatory oversight of tech firms’ content moderation decisions and backed legislation to scrap or weaken Section 230.

Trump took that action after Twitter tagged the president’s unsubstantiated tweets about claims of fraud in mail-in voting with a warning prompting readers to fact-check the posts.

There are several other pieces of legislation targeting Section 230 doing the rounds, including one from Democratic Senator Brian Schatz and No. 2 Senate Republican John Thune and another from Republican Senator Josh Hawley.

(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington Editing by Paul Simao)

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Latest Comments

  • September 10, 2020 at 7:26 am
    Howard Polar Bearle says:
    Jon said: "Again, you don’t understand freedom of speech. If you don’t like twitter and facebook, don’t use them." You claim people whose opinions differ with yours 'don... read more
  • September 9, 2020 at 7:19 pm
    Craig Winston Cornell says:
    Jon says: "Hatred breeds more hatred". From an expert.
  • September 9, 2020 at 7:18 pm
    Craig Winston Cornell says:
    You just confirmed the EXACT point I made. It is a cliche that lefties have no self-awareness to go along with their lack of any remaining sense of humor. But c'mon, Jon. You ... read more
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