U.S. government proposes rolling back protections for big tech

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department proposed on Wednesday that Congress take up laws to curb protections large tech platforms like Alphabet’s Google and Facebook have had for many years, a senior official stated, following by means of on U.S. President Donald Trump’s bid to crack down on tech giants.

FILE PHOTO: A 3D-printed Facebook emblem is seen positioned on a keyboard on this illustration taken March 25, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

The aim of the proposal, which is being finalized, is to push tech firms to deal with felony content material on their platforms equivalent to little one exploitation, terrorism or cyber stalking, and increase transparency for customers when the shops take down lawful materials, the senior Justice Department official stated, talking on situation of anonymity.

For it to change into legislation, U.S. lawmakers would want to suggest and approve laws primarily based on the division’s suggestions.

“These reforms are targeted at platforms to make certain they are appropriately addressing illegal and exploitive content while continuing to preserve a vibrant, open, and competitive internet,” Attorney General William Barr stated in a press release.

The president, who has battled Twitter and different tech firms over alleged censorship of conservative voices on social media platforms, stated in late May he would suggest laws to probably scrap or weaken the legislation shielding web firms, in a unprecedented try to control shops the place he has been criticized.

Trump stated he sought to “remove or change” Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which usually exempts platforms from accountability for what their customers put up and permits them to reasonable the content material of their websites as they see match.

The Justice Department proposal would search to push platforms to “address” illicit content material on-line, equivalent to materials that violates federal felony legislation, the division stated. It would additionally search to require the businesses to be upfront about their content material moderation selections and stop the large on-line platforms from invoking Section 230 in antitrust circumstances.

Facebook coverage chief Nick Clegg advised reporters that Section 230 allows the corporate to take away hate speech and that large adjustments would, “in the end, mean less speech of all kinds appearing online.”

The White House, for its half, welcomed information of the Justice Department proposal. “The president expressly called on DOJ to develop such model legislation in the Executive Order signed recently, and yes, President Trump is pleased to see the department following through,” stated White House spokesman Judd Deere.

Trump has attacked Twitter for tagging his tweets about unsubstantiated claims of fraud about mail-in voting with a warning prompting readers to fact-check the posts.

Google and Twitter didn’t instantly reply to requests for remark.

Carl Szabo, basic counsel of NetChoice which counts Google and Facebook amongst its members, stated the proposal would create so many obstacles to eradicating content material that the U.S. House of Representatives wouldn’t even think about it.

Also on Wednesday, Senator Josh Hawley joined with three different Republicans to introduce a invoice that will permit individuals to sue tech firms in the event that they really feel that their speech has been censored.

Reporting by Diane Bartz, Alexandra Alper and Katie Paul; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Andrea Ricci


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