Here’s what could happen to Section 230 – the internet law Donald Trump hates – now the Democrats have both Houses

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The Democrats winning the Georgia runoffs has big implications for Big Tech.

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) is a part of US law that provides tech companies with two important protections. Firstly, it gives them the ability to decide how to moderate content on their own platforms. Secondly, it shields them from liability for what their users post.

This means that when a user posts something illegal on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube – for example, child abuse imagery or terrorist content – the platform isn’t liable.

Section 230 has come under heavy fire from Trump and the Republicans, who claim that the Big Tech companies discriminate against conservatives. Trump called for the revocation of Section 230 numerous times, and vetoed a $741 billion defense bill over it in December.

A new administration does not mean reform of Section 230 will be abandoned, as Democrats have also attacked the law, saying it gives the tech companies too much legal protection for hosting harmful content. President-elect Joe Biden in January said he was in favor of repealing it.

This could place tech companies in major jeopardy, as it would expose them to huge legal risk for what their users post, and with the Democrats controlling both Houses they now have more of a chance of legislating Section 230 how they see fit. 

Even small changes to Section 230 could majorly shift how platforms approach moderation. If platforms become more liable for the content users post, they may be more indiscriminate in how much content they remove under their moderation policies.

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Big Tech executives including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey have resisted calls to repeal Section 230, saying it would mean platforms would end up stifling free speech in a bid to avoid being hit with a deluge of lawsuits.

Business Insider spoke to six legal experts about how the Democrats’ win could shape the future of Section 230.

The Big Tech firms probably have 100 days to plan their strategies

Two of the legal experts said it’s unlikely the Biden administration will do anything to Section 230 in the first 100 days of his presidency.

“Their focus will be on nominations, COVID response and vaccinations,” said June DeHart, an attorney specializing in policymaking proceedings at Manatt law firm.

Jeff Kosseff, a cybersecurity law expert who wrote a book on Section 230 entitled “The Twenty-Six Words That Created the Internet,” also said legislative changes would be slowed because there’s not yet a clear consensus on what to do.

“I think probably the most immediate impact is [the administration change] would affect the nature of the hearings about platforms and Section 230 that we’re going to see,” said Kosseff.

This gives the tech companies some wiggle room, but doesn’t mean they can rest easy. “They will get to it and want to make changes, clearly,” said Daphne Keller, director of Stanford Law School’s Program on Platform Regulation.

“My hope is that they will take the time to craft thoughtful legislation, perhaps modeled in part on …read more

Source:: Businessinsider – Politics


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