Congress Grills Big Tech Executives on Accountability Issues

Prior to a House hearing on social media’s role in extremism and disinformation, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg submitted written testimony on Section 230, suggesting that “platforms should be required to demonstrate that they have systems in place for identifying unlawful content and removing it.” Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act holds that platforms are not liable for content posted by their users. In a bipartisan effort, lawmakers are pushing for change. “Our nation is drowning in disinformation driven by social media,” suggested Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pennsylvania). “We will legislate to stop this.” Continue reading Congress Grills Big Tech Executives on Accountability Issues

Bill Could Make Net Neutrality Law Under New Administration

Senator Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) plans to introduce a bill in the next few weeks that would make new neutrality a law. “The coronavirus pandemic has proven that broadband is as essential as electricity and other utilities,” he said. “We need to restore net neutrality protections to ensure that our Internet remains open and free and that consumers can continue to benefit from this critical infrastructure.” Many Republicans still oppose net neutrality, and its existence has largely been subject to who chairs the FCC. Continue reading Bill Could Make Net Neutrality Law Under New Administration

Section 230 Faces Bipartisan Scrutiny and Potential Updates

At the very end of his presidency, Donald Trump tried to strike down Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which essentially provides online platforms with immunity from liability based on third-party content. He failed, but Congress has received 20 proposals to update or change the section. On February 5, three Democratic senators introduced a bill to make social media firms accountable for enabling cyberstalking, harassment and discrimination. More recently, Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and John Thune (R-South Dakota) plan to reintroduce the PACT Act, a proposal to jumpstart change. Continue reading Section 230 Faces Bipartisan Scrutiny and Potential Updates

Commerce Chief Nominee Scrutinizes China, 5G and Internet

Rhode Island governor Gina Raimondo, President Biden’s nominee to head the Commerce Department, described some of her positions during a Senate confirmation hearing. She revealed that she will take a “very aggressive” stance against China’s “unfair” trade practices stressing the need to develop a “whole-of-government response” in concert with U.S. allies. Raimondo also called for a national 5G spectrum policy and stated she will pursue changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Continue reading Commerce Chief Nominee Scrutinizes China, 5G and Internet

Internet Platforms Say They’re Ready to Discuss Section 230

Facing a bipartisan push from Congress to change Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a liability shield against lawsuits for Internet platforms, tech companies have said they are now ready to discuss it. For 20+ years, Internet platforms have adamantly defended Section 230 but, in recent weeks, both Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey have voiced support for “updating” and/or “expanding” the law. Democrats and Republicans have threatened to repeal Section 230. Continue reading Internet Platforms Say They’re Ready to Discuss Section 230

EU Proposes Two New Laws in Its Effort to Regulate Big Tech

The European Union’s executive branch issued drafts of two bills that would hike fines for illegal content and anticompetitive behavior up to 6 percent or 10 percent of annual worldwide revenue and even break up Big Tech firms to stop “competitive abuses.” Although the bills don’t mention any firms by name, they could be applied to Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. The UK, which is no longer part of the EU, has similar legislation in the works that would fine abusers up to 10 percent of annual global revenue. Continue reading EU Proposes Two New Laws in Its Effort to Regulate Big Tech

Senate Confirms Trump Nominee for FCC Nathan Simington

The Senate confirmed Nathan Simington as a new Republican FCC member in a 49-to-46 vote. The confirmation comes as FCC chair Ajit Pai prepares to exit his post in January. In the run-up to the vote, Simington vowed “regulatory stability” and an openness to reexamining Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. With Simington, the five-member FCC could be deadlocked at the beginning of 2021, with two Democrats and two Republicans, possibly limiting its ability to carry out president-elect Joe Biden’s agenda. Continue reading Senate Confirms Trump Nominee for FCC Nathan Simington

Biden to Select Replacement for Outgoing FCC Chair Ajit Pai

Federal Communications Commission chair Ajit Pai announced he will step down from his position on January 20, 2021. The FCC senior Democratic member, Jessica Rosenworcel, is predicted to be one of the leading candidates to succeed Pai, although former FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn has also been mentioned. With Pai’s departure, president-elect Joe Biden will be able to work with Democrats shortly after Inauguration Day on such anticipated priorities as restoring net neutrality and expanding universal broadband access.

Continue reading Biden to Select Replacement for Outgoing FCC Chair Ajit Pai

Facebook, Twitter Chief Execs Support Section 230 Changes

At a Senate Judiciary Committee, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey reported that their companies made improvements in blocking misinformation during the 2020 presidential election, compared to their inability to stop Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Judiciary chair Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said both companies will face modifications to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects them from liability for user-posted content, and the two chief execs expressed cautious support for the idea. Continue reading Facebook, Twitter Chief Execs Support Section 230 Changes

Big Tech Executives Defend Their Services in Senate Hearing

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter chief exec Jack Dorsey and Alphabet/Google chief exec Sundar Pichai faced a combative Senate Commerce Committee this week. Republicans want to update Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that shields Internet platforms from liability for user-generated content. They also claim the platforms censor conservative views. Democrats also want to look at Section 230 but are more focused on whether the platforms are guarding against disinformation as the presidential election looms. Continue reading Big Tech Executives Defend Their Services in Senate Hearing

FCC Aims to Limit Section 230 Protections for Social Media

Affirming the FCC’s authority over social media companies, chair Ajit Pai has launched an official effort to “clarify” how Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act applies to them. “Social media companies have a First Amendment right to free speech — but they do not have a First Amendment right to a special immunity denied to other media outlets, such as newspapers and broadcasters,” he said. President Trump has often called for social media companies to be stripped of Section 230 protections. Continue reading FCC Aims to Limit Section 230 Protections for Social Media

Proposed Legislation Would Weaken Shields for Social Media

The Justice Department sent Congress draft legislation to weaken Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, leaving Facebook, YouTube and other social media platforms vulnerable to legal action for content posted by users. The proposed changes would create liability for platforms that allow “known criminal content” to remain once they are aware of it. President Trump claims that social media companies are biased against conservatives. The platforms have not been protected against some civil suits. Continue reading Proposed Legislation Would Weaken Shields for Social Media

Internet Firms Battle Government’s Plan to Limit Section 230

The Internet Association, representing Amazon, Facebook, Google and others, urged the Federal Communications Commission to reject the Trump administration’s effort to limit Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which shields social media companies from liability for content posted by users. The IA said the effort is “misguided, lacks grounding in law, and poses serious public policy concerns.” The Consumer Technology Association agreed, saying new rules would “make compliance all but impossible.” Yesterday, Senate Republicans introduced legislation that would hold social platforms more responsible for content. Continue reading Internet Firms Battle Government’s Plan to Limit Section 230

Court Finds Amazon Liable for Defective Third-Party Products

The California Fourth District Court of Appeals ruled that Amazon can be held liable for the damages created by a defective replacement laptop battery purchased from a third-party seller on its marketplace. The buyer, Angela Bolger, reportedly got third degree burns when the battery, from Amazon third-party seller Lenoge Technology, caught fire. Amazon has defended itself against such liability lawsuits so the appeals court decision is a major blow to its e-commerce business. The company currently faces several other liability suits.

Continue reading Court Finds Amazon Liable for Defective Third-Party Products

PACT Act Intends to Update Section 230, Protect Consumers

Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and John Thune (R-South Dakota) introduced the Platform Accountability and Consumer Transparency (PACT) Act, which would hold Internet platforms such as Facebook and Google responsible for hosting illegal content and require them to reveal their moderation practices. The Act would change parts of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 that shield such platforms from liability for the content their users post, and is intended to require platforms to quickly remove offending content. Continue reading PACT Act Intends to Update Section 230, Protect Consumers

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