President Donald Trump late Tuesday threatened to veto defense legislation unless rules shielding technology companies from most liability lawsuits are changed.
“Section 230, which is a liability shielding gift from the U.S. to ‘Big Tech’ (the only companies in America that have it – corporate welfare!), is a serious threat to our National Security & Election Integrity. Our Country can never be safe & secure if we allow it to stand,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
“Therefore, if the very dangerous & unfair Section 230 is not completely terminated as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), I will be forced to unequivocally VETO the Bill when sent to the very beautiful Resolute desk. Take back America NOW. Thank you!” he added….
Trump has long derided Section 230 of the Communications and Decency Act, which protects social media companies from liability for what their users post.
The act positions providers of “an interactive computer service” from being treated as publishers, a position critics say is increasingly at odds with how tech giants like Twitter and Facebook act in reality.
The companies have ramped up censorship of users, including Trump, in recent months, even hiding some of the president’s posts from the public unless they click a warning label….
Tech executives have said they understand the push to alter Section 230 and have put forth their own ideas for how to do so, including requiring moderation processes and practices be published for the public to peruse….
In other words, these tech companies’ overriding concern is social control. They could have just laid back, sold their users’ time and attention to their advertisers and raked in the cash, but instead they want to sell social control to the usual suspects. This is evil.
The promise of the internet was its ability to act as a public square for everyone regardless of their wealth. If these companies lose immunity from liability then everyone will, and small operators will go out of business from legal bills. The info industry will become even more concentrated and the public even more fragmented and manipulable. Internet content will become indistinguishable from the broadcast wasteland. Mission accomplished.
I have a better idea: the status quo worked pretty well for us for years. These companies should be treated as utilities, with zero editorial control of content. I know it won’t happen, but that’s the beauty of the internet, I can put it out there and everyone is free to ignore it.