Those who seem to have gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to how massively powerful and influential tech platforms are treating them today have rightly or wrongly identified their target: a portion of US legislation that is now over 20 years old; Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
What giants like Google and Facebook – to name but a few rulers of the centralized social networking scene – get from obtaining and maintaining the legal status quo granted to them by Section 230 is that as platforms, they get immunity protection from any legal action brought against them based on the content of their users.
A sweet deal to be sure – but also a disturbing example of absolute power that comes with absolutely no real discernible accountability.
Republican Senator Josh Hawley has been known for looking into this problem from his particular political and ideological angle – often with the Communications Decency Act (CDA) and its now famous at best, and infamous at worst, Section 230 in his sights.
And in the process, Hawley seems to have chosen where to strike. Many of his conservative colleagues go after Section 230's most obvious controversy and discrepancy – allowing former garage outfits to survive in the digital world of 1996 with the attached, era-appropriate set of rules – only to see them blow up into massive global behemoths since, allegedly without these rules ever truly adjusted to the real (and massively changed) digital world of today.
Josh Hawley wants to get to the heart of the problem of this “model” that allowed the growth of Google, Facebook, and others over the last two decades.
He wants to go to the very core of the business model. The digital advertising pandemonium.
In short: Hawley's “Behavioral Advertising Decisions Are Downgrading Services (BAD ADS) Act” seeks to “remove protections under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act for large web services that display ads based on ‘personal traits of the user' or a user's previous online behavior.”
We obtained a copy for you to look at here.
This means that trying to basically profile and then manipulate users by analyzing and then deducing and predicting their behavior thanks to the massive amount of personal data collected and shared by tech giants would be unlawful if tech companies also want to keep their 230 privileges.