Justice Department to Propose Congressional Curbs to Big Tech Legal Immunity

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 29: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies via video conference during an Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee hearing on "Online platforms and market power. Examining the dominance of Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple" on Capitol Hill on July 29, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Graeme …
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The Department of Justice (DOJ) will submit a proposal to Congress that would curb big tech’s legal immunity, according to a report released Wednesday.

The DOJ proposal would restrict big tech’s legal immunity in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act if online platforms such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter fail to curb unlawful conduct on their platforms. The proposal also includes that big tech companies would be potentially liable if they fail to clarify their content moderation practices and do not consistently enforce those moderation practices.

The Trump administration’s DOJ proposal would also not grant legal immunity to tech companies that host child exploitation, sexual abuse, terrorism, or cyberstalking.

The Internet Association (IA), a trade group representing Facebook, Twitter, and other big tech companies, has continued to oppose the DOJ proposal. The IA said in June:

The world before Section 230 was one where platforms faced liability for removing things like spam or profanity. 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.

Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, said before President Donald Trump’s meeting with Republican state attorneys general:

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. State attorneys general are on the front lines of this issue, and President Trump wants to hear their perspectives.

Leading Republicans such as Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Roger Wicker (R-MS), Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) introduced the Online Freedom and Viewpoint Diversity Act to reform Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and allow more diverse viewpoints on big tech platforms.

Blackburn wrote in an op-ed for the Washington Examiner:

Once passed, it will eliminate the current statute’s infuriatingly ambiguous “otherwise objectionable” catch-all and instead provide examples of what that objectionable content might look like: for example, content that promotes terrorism or self-harm, or that is unlawful.

“The framework is in place, the procedure for updating it already learned by rote,” she added. “If Congress refuses to update these standards in a way that proves we understand the internet we have, and the potential of what’s to come, we do so at the peril of free thought.”

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

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