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Republicans and Democrats clashed again this week over Section 230, with Democrats arguing that Big Tech platforms should be held liable for users who cause harm and Republicans arguing they were held liable for censoring certain viewpoints should go.

Members of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology met Wednesday to discuss the 1996 law, which states internet platform cannot be held liable for the content posted by third-party users on their respective websites.


Rep. Kathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., and ranking member of the Energy and Commerce subcommittee, introduced draft legislation in July that would allow users of Big Tech platforms to sue companies if they believe the companies’ speech protected by the First Amendment. censors.

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“I believe the platform should be held accountable on both fronts,” McMorris Rodgers told Granthshala Business in an interview after the hearing. “So what are the Republicans trying to do? [is provide] A narrow solution to Section 230 to protect freedom of expression because we believe it is important. It’s important that we remove the biggest tech companies from the current 230 protections they hide behind and put them under their own rules… so that small businesses and startups are not affected.”

What is section 230?

Wednesday’s hearing included the testimony of three witnesses from across the political spectrum, including Facebook whistleblowers Frances Haugen and Kara Friedrich; James Steyer, founder and CEO of Internet security organization Common Sense Media; and Rashad Robinson, president of the racial justice group Color of Change.

are republicans change proposal 230 that would ensure that Big Tech companies are “held more accountable for the content they choose to enhance, promote or suggest” and “give conservatives a means to challenge Big Tech censorship decisions” “

Republicans pressed Haugen — a non-political whistleblower and former Facebook product manager who has made headlines in recent months for testifying that Facebook prioritizes profit over efforts to prevent public harm — to which he said Facebook was accused of having censorship of conservative users. McMorris Rodgers asked for a yes or no answer, which Hogan did not give.

“I think there are better solutions than censorship that we should be using,” Haugen told congressmen.

Lawyer for Facebook whistleblower says ‘more to come’

Meanwhile, Frederick called Big Tech an “enemy of the people” for moderating certain types of political content, adding that “misinformation” and “disinformation” are being “involved in a catch-all, Which the Left does not like.”

Democrats argue that a law allowing users to sue the platform for censorship could harm the real world if users are given free rein to say what they say online without strict moderation.

Francis Haugen during the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing (CSPAN)

Other Committee Republicans Have Introduced draft law Holding Big Tech companies accountable for illegal content, such as material related to human or drug trafficking, and cyberbullying, on their platforms, among other things.

Committee Democrats have proposed legislation to replace Section 230 that would result in greater content moderation. The Justice Against Malicious Algorithms Act will allow users to sue companies if users on their platforms cause physical or “serious emotional injury” in real life.

What if section 230 is repealed?

“Facebook has about 3 billion users. It has more followers than Christianity,” Robinson said. “And for us to say that we shouldn’t be able to hold them accountable…is an outrageous statement. So yes, there will be more lawsuits. There will be more accountability. But that means that [there] Hopefully there will be a change in the structures and the way they do business.”

Republicans argue that such laws present a slippery slope for companies that violate free speech, especially since the law does not explicitly define “serious emotional injury.”

McMorris Rodgers said the law would keep Big Tech companies “on the hook for any content that enhances or recommends [content] Which may contribute to quoting a person’s serious emotional injury, but they do not define it.”

“And so even then you have companies decide what content they are going to leave that might offend someone or fight in court or censor that content. I think we know that. How will Big Tech reach that? They will continue to silence content that doesn’t match their liberal ideology.”

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Some politicians have shown interest in scrapping Section 230 altogether, but technical experts say The law is essential to both protection and freedom of expression, and that if it is repealed or drastically changed, the Internet as we know it, could become more limited. Still, politicians are divided over how to modernize an internet law older than Netflix.

McMorris Rodgers believes Congress needs to do more hearings on the subject.