Justice Department Proposes Rolling Back Protection for Big Tech

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On Wednesday, the US Justice Department proposed that Congress take up legislation to curb protections given to large digital technology companies by the Communications Decency Act. President Trump has been clashing with the digital technology industry because he believes the industry has a bias against free expression by conservatives.

The President was particularly frustrated by Twitter’s decision to put a warning on one of his tweets, one which appears to advocate police brutality.

To limit the ability of social media companies to control the content on their platforms, Trump is seeking to “remove or change” Section 230 of the 1996 law. It’s an element of the law that exempts platforms from responsibility for what their users post while allowing them to moderate the content of their sites as they wish.

Barr’s Explanation

“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,” said Attorney General William Barr.

Industry Response

Facebook policy chief Nick Clegg told reporters that Section 230 allowed Facebook to remove hate speech and that the proposed changes would “in the end, mean less speech of all kinds appearing online.”

General counsel of NetChoice Carl Szabo said that the proposal would create so many obstacles to removing content that the House of Representatives would not consider it.

Some observers fear that if the US alienates its big technology companies, it could lose its position as the world’s leader in the sector. Shortly after Trump’s threat, Thomas Jarzombek, the point person for Berlin’s startup economy, published the following tweet, “Hey @Twitter & @jack, this is an invitation to move to Germany! Here you are free to criticize the government as well as to fight fake news. We have a great startup and tech ecosystem, your company would be a perfect fit and I will open any doors for you! @realDonaldTrump

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