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#Move to revise law shielding online companies draws bipartisan support

#Move to revise law shielding online companies draws bipartisan support

June 25, 2020 | 2:45pm

A Congressional movement to revise a federal law that shields online companies from being sued over posts and is picking up bipartisan support, according to a report.

President Trump and other Republicans have called for curbing protections provided under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 over complaints that social media companies are censoring conservative voices online while allowing other controversial content.

Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and John Thune (R-SD) introduced a measure on Wednesday that would update the law to make the tech companies more accountable for what appears on their online platforms, Axios reported on Thursday.

The PACT Act, introduced by the chairman and ranking Democrat on the Senate Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet subcommittee, would require the companies to be more transparent about their content moderation policies and would allow users to appeal decisions removing content.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to take up the EARN Act, backed by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Richard Blumental (D-Conn.) as early as this week.

It would strip Section 230 liability protections if online companies fail to meet government-set guidelines to prevent child exploitation on the web.

“Section 230 protects business models that generate profits off scams, fake news, fake reviews, and unsafe, counterfeit, and stolen products,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Il.), who is the Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Consumer Protection. “Since both courts and industry refuse to change, Congress must act.”

“It has become clear that reform is necessary if we want to stem the tide of disinformation rolling over our country,” Rep. Mike Doyle, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said Wednesday, Axios reported.

But Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) who co-authored Section 230 when he was in the House, urged lawmakers to proceed with caution.

“I think it’s important to make sure that any changes in the law we wrote do not target constitutionally protected speech [and] that anything done does not in any way discourage moderation by internet services,” he said, Axios reported.

Trump, who has had recent posts flagged by Twitter for inappropriate content and for fact-checking, wants Facebook and Twitter to take it easy on conservatives’ accounts, while Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi want them to do more to combat hate speech and misinformation online.

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