WWhile debates over Section 230 have often offered partisan and questionable legal suggestions, a recent YouTube ban on certain anti-vaccine content and recent testimonials from Facebook’s Instagram platform have cast doubt on a project. of particular law.
Since he became a focus of politics In the 2020 election, Republicans and Democrats sought to reform or change the law in some way, often doing so without realizing what the law protects. One of the most promising submissions is the SAFE TECH Act, announced by the Senses. Mark Warner, Mazie Hirono and Amy Klobuchar in February.
“Section 230 has provided a Get Out of Jail Free card to the biggest platform companies, even though their sites are used by crooks, stalkers and violent extremists to cause damage and injury.” argued Warner in the initial announcement. “This bill does not interfere with freedom of expression. It is about allowing these platforms to finally be held responsible for harmful behavior, often criminal, made possible by their platforms on which they have closed the eyes for too long. “
The SAFE TECH Act is designed, in theory, to maintain Section 230 protections while allowing for prosecution in exceptional cases. For example, the SAFE TECH Act would ensure that advertisements, paid content and other for-profit services would be exempt from section 230. In addition, it would allow injunctions to be filed against technology companies and render them exempt. cases of criminal cyberstalking, harassment and human rights violations exempt from the protections of section 230.
“The SAFE TECH law could help bring about significant changes regarding section 230”, Christa Ramey, trial lawyer and founder of Ramey Law, noted. Ramey deals with cases of bullying and cyberbullying that often involve dealing with tech companies and the platforms teens use to attack their peers. While Ramey said most teen bullying happens on private messaging platforms like Signal and WhatsApp, she said she sees a lot of potential in being able to sue companies for their platform. form of harassment or harassment. Ramey pointed out the platform attempts to tackle disinformation in 2020 as evidence that tech platforms could do the same with harassing speech and hope to use some of the reforms presented in the SAFE TECH law to encourage big tech companies to better regulate and stop harassing behavior on their websites. platforms.
Others are less certain of the viability of the bill. “SAFE TECH is based on a few mistaken views,” argued Shoshana Weissmann, member of the R Street Institute. “It removes Section 230 protection from most paid speech online, but online services are no better suited to impeccable moderation for paid content than for free content. Whether it is for platforms with millions of contents or a few dozen contents, it is impossible to determine which content is illegal. That is why we have courts and judges who decide such things. “
Weissmann told the Washington Examiner that many of the reforms proposed by the tech-related bills, including the SAFE TECH Act, fail to make the key distinctions they claim to make. For example, the SAFE TECH Act distinguishes that web interactions where money is exchanged would be exempt from the protection of section 230 to regulate online advertising. While this seems viable to a layman, it ignores that many online interactions are motivated by financial exchanges, including web hosting platforms.
Other tech policy organizations have also echoed Weissmann’s thoughts. The Electronic Frontier Foundation describe the bill as a “canon approach to the reform of article 230”, which would open the door to many trials. Mike masnick of the Copia Institute argued that the bill “effectively wipes out Section 230 protections for the entire Internet while claiming it is only a minor change.”
Although the SAFE TECH law received considerable attention when it was introduced, the bill did not make it past the stage of its presentation to the Senate. As a result, it remains unclear whether the bill will stand a better chance in Congress than previous attempts to amend Section 230.
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Original author: Christophe hutton