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Senator Hawley Plans to Strip Big Tech of Legal Immunity.

U.S. Senator Josh Hawley is taking Silicon Valley to task with new legislation to hold social media platforms like Facebook, Google, and Twitter accountable for their political bias by stripping them of existing Section 230 protections.

“With Section 230, tech companies get a sweetheart deal that no other industry enjoys: complete exemption from traditional publisher liability in exchange for providing a forum free of political censorship.”

The introduction of a new bill follows widespread allegations and evidence that social media platforms treat conservatives and Trump supporters with contempt. The Missouri Republican wants tech companies to demonstrate they are politically neutral in their moderation of user content or be subject to lawsuits they are currently immune to.

The bill he proposes will strip companies of legal immunity for user-generated content provided under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act unless they can prove their moderation practices are not politically motivated.

“With Section 230, tech companies get a sweetheart deal that no other industry enjoys: complete exemption from traditional publisher liability in exchange for providing a forum free of political censorship,” said Senator Hawley. “Unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, big tech has failed to hold up its end of the bargain.”

“There’s a growing list of evidence that shows big tech companies making editorial decisions to censor viewpoints they disagree with,” he added.

“Even worse, the entire process is shrouded in secrecy because these companies refuse to make their protocols public. This legislation simply states that if the tech giants want to keep their government-granted immunity, they must bring transparency and accountability to their editorial processes and prove that they don’t discriminate.”

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The Communications Decency Act currently protects tech companies from liability for illegal content posted on their platforms. It was created during the nascent stages of the Internet to protect their growth and allow the proliferation of free speech online.

“It is time to shine light onto what big tech companies do and force them to provide transparency about their content moderation practices.”

The Internet has long passed its infancy. Tech companies that enjoyed this government subsidy now possess the resources to moderate content. It’s clear platforms like Facebook and Twitter no longer need these protections and are instead abusing the carve out to protect themselves from liability for their political practices.

“Something is happening with those groups of folks that are running Facebook, Google and Twitter,” said President Donald Trump in March. “I do think we have to get to the bottom of it … It’s collusive and it’s very, very fair to say that we have to do something about it.”

The President’s comments came in the wake of a $ 250 million lawsuit against Twitter over allegations of shadow banning conservatives. Shadow banning is the practice of making the posts invisible to anyone but the original poster.

Big Tech has fought back against charges of bias.

Twitter and Google argue that conservatives removed from the platforms were banned for violating their rules against hate speech and harassment.

Senator Hawley’s bill will remove automatic immunity under Section 230 from big tech companies. It will provide platforms the ability to earn immunity through external audits. They would have to prove to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by “clear and convincing evidence” that their algorithms and content-removal practices are politically neutral.

Furthermore, the FTC will not be able to certify Big Tech companies for immunity except by a supermajority vote. These companies would be responsible for the auditing costs, and only allowed to reapply for immunity every two years.

The Senator’s office added that the legislation does not apply to small and medium-sized tech companies. The bill only applies to companies with more than 30 million active monthly users in the United States, or more than 300 million active monthly users worldwide, or who earn more than $ 500 million in global annual revenue.

In other words, Twitter, Google, and Facebook would be subject to it.

As Hawley’s office writes, “Because these companies control the very information we receive, we must ensure that they moderate content in a politically neutral manner. Today’s most powerful companies must not be allowed to interfere with the policy Congress established, when passing the CDA, to ensure “a forum for a true diversity of political discourse.” 47 U.S.C. § 230(a)(3).”

“It is time to shine light onto what big tech companies do and force them to provide transparency about their content moderation practices.”

Ian Miles Cheong is the managing editor of Human Events

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Source: Human Events

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