The Trump administration has requested Missouri Senator, Josh Hawley work on a bill aimed at the liability protection tech companies enjoy under section 230, an unnamed source told Axios.
The move by the White House arrives a few weeks after the president signed an executive order targeting the same law. The President, other Republican politicians, and conservatives constantly insist that big social media platforms such as Twitter practice online bias.
If Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) is successful in creating new legislation, it would be a bigger blow to tech companies than the Executive order, which is legally questionable and already there’s a lawsuit challenging it for violating the First Amendment.
Senator Josh Hawley was among the team of four senators that signed a letter requesting the FCC to “clearly define the framework under which technology firms, including social media companies, receive protections under Section 230.” In the letter, Hawley, together with Senators, Marco Rubio (R-FL), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), and Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), argued that since social media companies often favor one political view over another, they should be liable for content published by users. They also noted that these companies enjoy vast protections because Section 230 lacks clear rules.
Last year, Hawley unsuccessfully attempted to pass a bill targeting Section 230. His proposed “Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act” bill would have changed Section 230 so that social media companies would only enjoy liability protection if they government certified that they are not practicing bias in moderation of content. His proposal was met by opposition from both liberals and conservatives.
Regardless of past failure, legislation, not executive orders, are best way to change section 230, since it is a law. This time, both the Missouri legislature and the White House are better prepared, according to the report by Axios. They have consulted with the Justice Department and have sought support from other senators for a draft of the bill that could be ready for debate as soon as next week.
Section 230 has, over the past few years, faced criticism from both Democrats and Republicans. However, Democrats criticize social platforms for not censoring enough, while Republicans criticize social platforms for censorship and bias.