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Democrats prefer "scalpel" over "jackhammer" to reform Internet law



(Reuters) – Big Tech's decision to block certain posts and videos while spreading other content that is considered inflammatory has angered both Republicans and Democrats and raised the prospect of a 24-year-old U.S. law promoting the Internet

While many Republicans demand that section 230 of the Communications Decency Act be repealed, Democrats would prefer targeted surgical review of the law that protects Facebook and Twitter from being sued for content published by users. [19659002] President Donald Trump and top Republicans, angry at what they claim is technology companies' censorship of conservative ideas, say the legal shield has survived its usefulness. That thinking was fully demonstrated at a hearing held to discuss the law on Wednesday.

Democrats have also targeted the law, claiming it does not address widespread misinformation and hatred. But they argue that the law is important for freedom of expression online and want a more conscious and moderate approach to reform.

Democratic presidential candidate Joseph R. Biden has demanded the "revocation" of the law, but many believe he will be more receptive to ideas from congressional Democrats if he wins the election.

Several Democratic lawmakers said in interviews that they oppose repealing Section 230, which allows companies to download or post material on their platforms without the risk of lawsuits.

"Repealing it immediately is not feasible," said Representative Anna Eshoo, a California Democrat. She has introduced legislation to remove technology companies' liability protection if their algorithms amplify harmful, radicalizing content that leads to offline violence. She advocated that "a scalpel instead of a jackhammer to reform the critical charter."

The approach has also found support from Virginia's Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, according to a staff member. Sen. Manchin's bill, co-sponsored by Republican John Cornyn, aims to stop the sale of opioids and illegal drugs online by changing 230 protections. It requires companies to report suspicious activity to law enforcement or be held responsible for this failure.

An assistant to Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who originally co-authored section 230, said the senator called for caution in measures that could restrict free speech online. "He says that no one can ever change the word in section 230, without the politicians having to be very careful when it comes to tipping with basic laws about speech and the internet," the assistant said.

Meanwhile, trade groups in the past year launched an aggressive lobbying effort to change the law and view repeal calls as draconian.

"I expect the more extreme statements that I want a complete repeal to die … the Democrats go to that kind of rhetoric back," said Carl Szabo, attorney general for Netchoice, a trading group that counts Google LLC, Facebook Inc. and Twitter among its members.

A Moderate Strategy

There are a number of proposals on Capitol Hill, most of the bills that have found Democratic sponsors trying to change the protection against malicious behavior on online platforms

Legislation by Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham monitors child pornography online. Companies that do not detect such images would lose their 230 immunities. common users.

Democratic Senator Brian Schatz and Senate No. 2 Republican John Thune for proposes another bill that would require platforms to explain their content screening in everyday language. , notify users of content rejection within 1

4 days and allow appeals.

Matt Perault, director of the Duke University & # 39 ;s Center for Science and Technology Policy, said that the US election has accelerated calls for the withdrawal of section 230, which would radically change

"Regardless of the election results, I believe that reform 230 sections will be on the agenda of the next congress, "said Representative Eshoo.

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