Justice Department Working to Limit Tech Company Protections
The Justice Department is proposing a rollback of legal protections for online platforms, in an effort to make them accountable for policing content, according to the Wall Street Journal.
These proposed changes are intended to push online companies to be more scrupulous when it comes to illicit or harmful content on their sites. Congress would have to vote on the proposed changes. This move comes after recent clashes between the Trump administrations and tech firms like Twitter Inc., Alphabet Inc.'s Google, and Facebook Inc.
Last month, President Trump signed an executive order that targeted the legal protections of social-media companies. This sought to limit legal immunity for social-media companies when they unfairly censor speech.
The proposed changes by the Justice Department take this one step further, stripping civil immunity from tech companies under other circumstances. For example, removing legal protections when platforms solicit third-party content that violates federal criminal law, such as eliciting illegal drugs. Furthermore, the Justice Department wants to affirm that online companies don't have immunity in civil-enforcement actions brought by the federal government.
The threatened protections were established under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. There has been bipartisan scrutiny of Section 230's protection, with claims they are outdated and obsolete in today's technology-driven society. Tech companies claim Section 230 is fundamental for smooth functioning.
Tech companies are facing an attack on rights dating back almost 25 years.