Administration Seeking To Roll Back Tech Company Protections
Techlife News|June 20, 2020
The Justice Department proposed that Congress roll back long-held legal protections for online platforms such as Facebook, Google and Twitter, putting down a legislative marker in President Donald Trump’s drive against the social media giants.

The proposed changes would strip some of the bedrock protections that have generally shielded the companies from legal responsibility for what people post on their platforms.

“When it comes to issues of public safety, the government is the one who must act on behalf of society at large. Law enforcement cannot delegate our obligations to protect the safety of the American people purely to the judgment of profit-seeking private firms,” Attorney General William Barr said in a statement.

The legislative changes would ensure that the internet companies’ legal immunity becomes an incentive for them “to be responsible actors,” Barr said. They “are targeted at platforms to make certain they are appropriately addressing illegal and exploitive content while continuing to preserve a vibrant, open, and competitive internet.”

In a politically charged flourish last month, Trump signed an executive order challenging the protections from lawsuits under a 1996 telecommunications law that have served as the foundation for unfettered speech on the internet.

Trump lashed out at Twitter for applying fact checks to two of his posts. He said the fact checks were “editorial decisions” by Twitter amounting to political activism — and that such actions should cost social media companies their liability protection for material posted on their platforms. He accused Twitter of interfering in the 2020 presidential election.

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