Big Tech to Hold Panel Against Regulating Communications Decency Act to Curb Censorship

US lawmakers: social media answers on extremist content too vague
© AFP/File Lionel BONAVENTURE, Nicolas ASFOURI

NetChoice, a trade association representing many of America’s largest tech companies, will host an event Tuesday criticizing recent calls for regulating Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which many conservatives believe allows large tech companies to censor without significant legal recourse.

NetChoice, which represents Facebook, Google, and Twitter, will host an event Tuesday on why Congress should not alter Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a provision crafted by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) to give tech companies more legal immunity to censor conservative and alternative voices on the Internet.

Wyden wrote in May that he wrote Section 230 so that tech companies can take down “bad actors” without accruing lawsuits, and he suggested that social media platforms need to do more to weed out “hate.”

The big tech trade organization will host the release of Copia Institute CEO Mike Masnick’s new report, “Don’t Shoot the Message Board,” which will outline Section 230’s alleged value to the American economy.

Speakers at the event will include:

  • Masnick, Copia Institute CEO
  • Jesse Blumenthal, Stand Together, vice president of technology and innovation. Stand Together is the latest iteration of the Seminar Network, more commonly known as the Koch network, which has been largely critical of recent calls to regulate big tech.
  • Emma Llanso, a director at the Center for Democracy and Technology
  • Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel at NetChoice
  • Rachel Wolbers, internet policy specialist at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), an executive branch agency within the Commerce Department.

Wolbers’ attendance at the panel could strike controversy considering that the Donald Trump administration has yet to craft a policy position on whether to alter or eliminate Section 230 in the wake of widespread censorship of conservative and alternative voices on the Internet.

Wolbers, a former policy director at Engine and recent NTIA employee, could make remarks at the panel that could be mistaken as the Trump administration’s position on whether to alter Section 230. Engine has close ties with the Charles Koch Institute, and the Charles Koch Institute (CKI) has donated to Engine.

Engine has criticized Sen. Josh Hawley’s (R-MO) recent legislation to audit social media companies’ algorithm and content moderation process, and if the government were to find political bias, tech companies would lose their Section 230 immunity. Hawley’s legislation would “end big tech’s assault on free speech” by altering Section 230.

Although Trump has not explicitly come out in favor of regulating big tech, he has increasingly called out big tech’s censorship of conservatives on social media platforms such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter. Trump tweeted in May that he will continue to monitor big tech’s censorship of free speech online.

The legislation garnered sharp criticism from many tech organization, while many in President Trump’s orbit praised the bill. Donald Trump Jr., President Donald Trump’s son, shared the article.

Andy Surabian, a former White House strategist, said that if Google, Facebook, and Twitter “want to be neutral platforms, they shouldn’t be allowed to ban people for political views, without being held legally accountable for doing so.”

Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.

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