The Justice Department announced plans Wednesday to make legislative recommendations for changes to the legal protections surrounding big tech companies.
The decision comes just a day after Google Ads attempted to demonetize The Federalist over “race based content” and just a month after President Trump signed an executive order with intentions to curb the cut back on the protections after alleged censorship of conservative news outlets. Attorney General William Barr, according to the Wall Street Journal, also “has repeatedly voiced concerns about online-platform immunity.”
According to the WSJ, the proposal “would remove legal protections when platforms facilitate or solicit third-party content or activity that violates federal criminal law, such as online scams and trafficking in illicit or counterfeit drugs” and rescind monetary damage immunity from companies that knowingly allow illicit activity to continue. It would also ensure that companies “don’t have immunity in civil-enforcement actions brought by the federal government, and can’t use immunity as a defense against antitrust claims that they removed content for anticompetitive reasons.”
Despite claims by many tech companies that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the section that grants them protection, is necessary, the proposal’s goal “would be to require platforms to adhere to their terms of service as well as their public claims about their practices. Platforms also would have to provide reasonable explanations of their decisions.”
Lawmakers in Congress are already examining ways to crack down on big tech censorship. On Wednesday, Sen. Joshua Hawley (R-M0.) along with Sens. Marco Rubio, Mike Braun, and Tom Cotton debuted new legislation that would allow “users who believe the provider is not ‘operating in good faith’ by consistently and fairly applying its content rules could sue for $5,000 and attorneys’ fees.”
Today I’m introducing new legislation to combat #BigTech censorship. It gives users the right to sue if the big platforms enforce their terms unfairly or unequally. Proud to be joined by @marcorubio @SenTomCotton @SenatorBraun https://t.co/OcvXfHXPYk
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) June 17, 2020