Attorney General William Barr said Sunday that the primary motive behind the Justice Department’s push to reform Section 230 liability protections for big tech corporations is to preserve free speech following a progressive trend in selective censorship.
Barr said on Fox News with Maria Bartiromo that the idea behind the initial protections provided under Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act was to encourage platforms to take down obscene content while promoting an open forum to all users. Recent events however, encapsulated in last week’s attempts by Google and NBC News to de-platform The Federalist show online companies abusing Section 230 protections to censor unwelcome narratives.
“We wanted to encourage platforms to take off obscene material or harassing material or other kinds of offensive material,” Barr said, explaining that doing so would prevent a company from being deemed a publisher. “Unfortunately, [companies] started taking down view points and started really being selective and based on whether they agreed with the viewpoint or not taking it down, and that should make them a publisher.”
AG Barr talks about proposed changes to Section 230 protections for Big Tech companies including requiring platforms to be more clear about violations of their terms of service and having a better process to dispute the violation. pic.twitter.com/4iRpjADmnX
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) June 21, 2020
The Justice Department unveiled several reforms last week aiming to curb big tech immunity to secure free and open access to the 21st century public square monopolized by tech giants in the Silicon Valley. The department is requesting that corporations clarify websites’ terms of service and have a reasonably based reason for stripping down content while preserving companies’ rights to take down unlawful posts. Barr said companies also must give people notice that their content will be ripped off the site with a process to dispute the action.