Bill introduced to strip Section 230 protections from the internet

Posted:
in General Discussion edited December 2020
A bi-partisan bill has been introduced that would remove Section 230 legal protections from companies that "engage in certain manipulative practices" but in practice, would strip the protections from nearly every internet venue with user interaction.

Credit: WikiMedia
Credit: WikiMedia


Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act shields online platforms from liability for content posted by others on their sites. The protections allowed early platforms to flourish, but has come under scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators.

The Break Up Big Tech Act of 2020, introduced Wednesday by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), seeks to strip companies of those protections if they take supposed actions like "acting as publishers and censoring certain users."

Both Rep. Gabbard and Rep. Gosar position the bill as a way to stop the alleged censorship of users and opinions. There are elements of the bill that also are aimed to curb targeted advertising and the commodification of user data.

"This bill removes the legal immunity that service providers have taken advantage of to act with impunity, while maintaining Section 230 protections for those who provide truly neutral social media platforms or search engines without the use of manipulative algorithms," Gabbard said.

More specifically, the legislation would remove Section 230 protections from online companies that perform the following activities.
  • Selling and displaying targeted ads without a user's consent

  • Collecting data for "commercial purposes other than the direct sale of the interactive computer service."

  • Acting as a marketplace by "facilitate the placement of items into the stream of commerce."

  • Employing digital products intended to "engage and addict users" to the service.

  • Acting as a publisher by using algorithms to moderate or censor content without opt-in from users
Following consultation with multiple attorneys, the proposal is sufficiently broad so that the restrictions apply to any venue that hosts advertisements -- even from Google's exchanges and not directly commissioned -- that also has a comment section or other way for users to react to content published by the venue, or shared by other users.

Section 230 has become a political target in recent years. Republicans, for example, believe that social media companies are censoring conservative viewpoints, while Democrats believe Section 230 shields social media companies when they proliferate misinformation or misleading content. In actual practice with section 230 reforms as proposed, venues will engage in more moderation -- not less -- to guarantee that they still fall under the legal protections of the statute.

Back in October, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said the FCC has the ability to interpret the law, and signaled a plan to do so. In September, the Justice Department outlined legislation that would alter certain Section 230 protections.

President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order earlier in 2020 after Twitter flagged one of his tweets as misleading. On the campaign trail, President-elect Joe Biden also said that he supports revoking the law.

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Google's Sundar Pichai, and Twitter's Jack Dorsey all testified before Congress earlier in 2020 about Section 230 and the allegations of censorship. Criticism of the protections also surfaced in what was supposed to be an antitrust hearing in July.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 41
    It's about time! Tech companies can't have it both ways. They can't enjoy protection from liability for content if they are also censoring that content. If they can censor some content, then they must censor all content. 

    This bill makes a lot of sense...which means it has absolutely no chance of passing. 
    bluefire1SpamSandwichcat52NotoriousDEV
  • Reply 2 of 41
    Good way to rid the airwaves of Trump and his lackeys permanently

  • Reply 3 of 41
    tylersdad said:
    It's about time! Tech companies can't have it both ways. They can't enjoy protection from liability for content if they are also censoring that content. If they can censor some content, then they must censor all content. 

    This bill makes a lot of sense...which means it has absolutely no chance of passing. 
    Horrible bill. It will never pass (hopefully) because it's ridiculous. And no, a company can choose to censor what it wants. That's your right too. As in, don't watch that movie or listen to certain things you don't like. And a company has the same rights. On my blog, I can delete you. I can do what I want...it's a thing about freedom of expression completely aside from 'the First Amendment' which only has to do with government controlling content which is in effect what this bill would do. I'm not sure why anyone would support this unless they are paranoid. Those folks who think Google only censors conservatives or that Twitter should be forced by laws to allow anything anyone posts. And I'd say this bill will have absolutely the opposite effect. Nothing will be posted at all. Anywhere. Ever. So it's a form of censorship on a massive scale as companies recoil from allowing any interaction. Yelling fire in a crowded theatre is not a right. Having made up shit tagged as 'made up shit' is also an old practice. 
    edited December 2020 tokyojimuGraeme000tmaytommikelerealjustinlongdewmeDogperson
  • Reply 4 of 41
    This should apply to companies with gross revenue of over 100 million.
    cat52
  • Reply 5 of 41
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,110member
    muaddib said:
    This should apply to companies with gross revenue of over 100 million.
    And you came up with that number... by pulling it out of your ass?
    marcotor949mwhiterealjustinlongSpamSandwichRayz2016
  • Reply 6 of 41
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 22,874member
    The practical effect will be that a site like this AppleInsider Forum can longer exist. 

    Cheerleaders of the bill need to consider unanticipated consequences. Comment forums will largely disappear from most fan sites, and the ones that remain will heavily moderate (censor). It's rare that any of them earn enough profit to weather just one lawsuit over content posted by a user. 
    edited December 2020 muthuk_vanalingamGraeme000tmaycharlesatlasdewmedarkvader
  • Reply 7 of 41
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,823member
    Tulsi Gabbard is a nut case and the GOP has become so corrupt and ugly behind Trump and McConnell, they can’t tolerate being caught in lies and are currently threatening our very democracy.
    Company forums are not public and consequently aren’t subject to the 1st Amendment. It’s unreasonable to expect all expression on a company forum to be accurately moderated or moderated to one’s own liking. Section 230 needs to remain.
    Graeme000williamlondonOferDogpersondarkvader
  • Reply 8 of 41
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,145administrator
    gatorguy said:
    The practical effect will be that a site like this AppleInsider Forum can longer exist. 

    Cheerleaders of the bill need to consider unanticipated consequences. Comment forums will largely disappear from most fan sites, and the ones that remain will heavily moderate (censor). It's rare that any of them earn enough profit to weather just one lawsuit over content posted by a user. 
    If this, or similar 230 "reform" bills are passed, the forums here will absolutely be shut down.
    edited December 2020 Graeme000dewmeSpamSandwichurashidOferRayz2016Dogpersondarkvadermuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 9 of 41
    LOL...Tulsi Gabbard is technically a Democrat, yes. But that's about all you can say when it comes to her connection to the Democratic party. 
    Oferdarkvader
  • Reply 10 of 41
    The current culture of social media is they do censor conservatives and when the liberals say the same thing, it’s ok. Social media companies can’t be both commons and publishers. If your a publisher you can censor, but if you’re a commons and censor it then you’re infringing on people’s constitutional rights. 

    I believe that the bill is making sure that if tech companies behaves like a publisher, then they should be treated as such and can’t claim they are commons. 
    SpamSandwichhodarcat52NotoriousDEV
  • Reply 11 of 41
    The current culture of social media is they do censor conservatives and when the liberals say the same thing, it’s ok. 
    Care to provide some examples of the "same thing" being censored?
    Graeme000OferDogpersonradarthekat
  • Reply 12 of 41
    Horrible bill with little chance of passing.

    Several comments above cheering this on. I can almost guarantee those people have no idea of the effects this would have across the board.

    There are many ways to accomplish responsibility and moderation on social media websites. This is not one of them. Support of this particular proposal can only come from ignorance and a lack of knowledge. This is not how you make big tech and FB responsible. It would be a complete and utter disaster.

    Besides, McConnell will never allow a vote and Biden would never sign it. Grandstanding by politicians who want to pile on and burnish their resume for 2022 elections by falsely claiming all the great things they did for Americans. What a load of pure BS.
    Dogpersonradarthekat
  • Reply 13 of 41


    muaddib said:
    This should apply to companies with gross revenue of over 100 million.
    And you came up with that number... by pulling it out of your ass?
    Where else would he have gotten that from?
  • Reply 14 of 41
    LOL...Tulsi Gabbard is technically a Democrat, yes. But that's about all you can say when it comes to her connection to the Democratic party. 

    She stayed in the Democratic primary for over a year despite continually polling around 1%. If that isn't delusional, I don't know what is.
  • Reply 15 of 41
    larryjw said:
    Good way to rid the airwaves of Trump and his lackeys permanently

    Boy, have you got that reversed.
    williamlondonhodarcat52
  • Reply 16 of 41

    The current culture of social media is they do censor conservatives and when the liberals say the same thing, it’s ok. Social media companies can’t be both commons and publishers. If your a publisher you can censor, but if you’re a commons and censor it then you’re infringing on people’s constitutional rights. 

    I believe that the bill is making sure that if tech companies behaves like a publisher, then they should be treated as such and can’t claim they are commons. 
    You believe wrong. And you somehow think this only applies to what you would call "liberals."

    Do you realize Fox, NewsMax, OAN, Rush Limbaugh, etc. would likely suffer far more than your dreaded liberals?
    Dogpersonradarthekat
  • Reply 17 of 41
    gatorguy said:
    The practical effect will be that a site like this AppleInsider Forum can longer exist. 

    Cheerleaders of the bill need to consider unanticipated consequences. Comment forums will largely disappear from most fan sites, and the ones that remain will heavily moderate (censor). It's rare that any of them earn enough profit to weather just one lawsuit over content posted by a user. 
    If this, or similar 230 "reform" bills are passed, the forums here will absolutely be shut down.
    That might be this site’s reaction, but all it means is a site must choose to act as a nonpartisan forum or act as a publisher exercising editorial control.

    230 did not exist until relatively recently, so it would just go back to the way it was before.

    This needs to happen.
    hodarcat52NotoriousDEV
  • Reply 18 of 41
    cpsro said:
    Tulsi Gabbard is a nut case and the GOP has become so corrupt and ugly behind Trump and McConnell, they can’t tolerate being caught in lies and are currently threatening our very democracy.
    Company forums are not public and consequently aren’t subject to the 1st Amendment. It’s unreasonable to expect all expression on a company forum to be accurately moderated or moderated to one’s own liking. Section 230 needs to remain.
    Section 230 has only existed since 1989 and it isn’t a free pass for everything.

    The hyperbole in this thread reminds me a lot of the “end of the world” nonsense people insisted would result as a consequence of eliminating so-called “Net Neutrality”. Obviously, it was all panic talk.

    Get informed here:  https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Section_230
    tylersdadcat52NotoriousDEV
  • Reply 19 of 41
    The current culture of social media is they do censor conservatives and when the liberals say the same thing, it’s ok. 
    Care to provide some examples of the "same thing" being censored?
    Sure!

    The H-nter B-den laptop scandal was widely reported at the time it occurred (before the election) by conservative sources, and those tweets and accounts were censored or eliminated by Twitter for posting information which came directly from the laptop. All kinds of disgusting stuff. And now that the election is “over” suddenly now CNN (for example) is covering it after denying its existence. CNN and Twitter both acted as propaganda arms of the DNC. 

    And yes, I self-censored the name in my post since I’ve received many warnings on this site for my political opinions. The above isn’t an opinion though. It’s all independently verifiable fact.
    edited December 2020 tylersdadhodarsdw2001cat52NotoriousDEV
  • Reply 20 of 41
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,605member
    gatorguy said:
    The practical effect will be that a site like this AppleInsider Forum can longer exist. 

    Cheerleaders of the bill need to consider unanticipated consequences. Comment forums will largely disappear from most fan sites, and the ones that remain will heavily moderate (censor). It's rare that any of them earn enough profit to weather just one lawsuit over content posted by a user. 
    If this, or similar 230 "reform" bills are passed, the forums here will absolutely be shut down.
    Thanks for summing it up very nicely.

    Nobody in their right mind would place themselves in a position where they can be held liable for other people's crimes and indiscretions. Likewise, repeal of this provision would not only encourage mass censorship, but instill it as a survival mechanism for anyone bold enough to attempt to provide a public forum that allows open participation. 

    This bill is just another case of one group saying "Only we can ascertain the truth and we will enforce it as we see fit." This is not a slippery slope, this is an icy cliff. Unfortunately, after the truth decay, hate priming, and "win at any cost" behaviors that have become normalized over the past several years, this bill may gain some traction. The same failings in human nature and twisted cognition that led 900+ attendees of the Jim Jones kool-aid party to be led to the gates of hell by a psychopathic but charismatic leader are still very much in play to this day. It's just a matter of time before the party starts.  
    DogpersondarkvaderFileMakerFeller
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