Senators Warn Big Tech About Section 230: ‘Reform Is Coming’ | CNN Business
US senators said on Wednesday that bipartisan support is growing to overhaul a federal immunity law for technology platforms and websites known as Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a warning aimed squarely at the big platforms of social networks.
“Here’s a message to Big Tech: Reform is coming,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who chaired a technology subcommittee hearing to consider changes to the law.
“I can’t predict that it will be in the next few weeks or the next few months,” Blumenthal said. “But if you listen, you’ll hear a growing consensus and a demand from the American public that we need to act in a bipartisan way.”
Wednesday was the second hearing in a month by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee who have pledged to expand the number and types of lawsuits tech platforms can face.
Lawmakers from both parties praised the Supreme Court for considering Section 230 when it heard Gonzalez v. Google, a case about whether YouTube can be sued for algorithmically suggesting videos made by terrorists to users. The case could have major repercussions for how social media sites rank, present and promote content online.
But the senators said that regardless of what the Court decides, it’s up to Congress to rewrite the law so members of the public can take the platforms to court and hold them accountable.
Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley, a vocal critic of the tech industry, acknowledged that the effort to overhaul Section 230 has been “very slow.”
“As a Republican, I would love to blame this on my Democratic colleagues,” Hawley said. “But the sad fact is that Republicans are just as guilty, if not more so.”
Republicans and Democrats have generally agreed that changing Section 230 should be a legislative priority, but they disagree on why and how the law should be updated. Where Republicans have attacked Section 230 for allegedly giving tech platforms a free pass to remove conservative content, Democrats have said the problem with the law is that it immunizes the platforms even though they have not removed misinformation and speech. hate
“My side of the aisle, when it comes to asserting the rights of citizens to walk into court, to have their day in court, is often very, very slow to endorse that approach and very, very cautious,” Hawley said. “But I think the time has come to say that we have to give individuals, we have to give parents, we have to give children and victims the most basic right.”