back to article Uncle Sam's legal eagles finally make up their mind on internet giants' Get Out Of Jail Free card – and it's not as bad as you may fear

The US Justice Department has emitted its proposals for changes in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act – the magic shield that, with a few caveats, protects websites from being held legally responsible for their users' comments, posts, and other content. The law is a cornerstone of the internet as we know it today: …

  1. ADC

    Different opinions...

    Both Techdirt and Ars Technica seem to have a much poorer opinion of these proposals.

    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20200902/20220245240/copia-institutes-comment-to-fcc-regarding-ridiculous-ntia-petition-to-reinterpret-section-230.shtml

    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20200920/16382945341/busting-still-more-myths-about-section-230-you-fcc.shtml

    https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2020/09/trump-admin-sends-congress-its-blueprint-for-weakening-section-230/

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Different opinions...

      It seems designed to get moderation policies pared down to the minimum as otherwise if an example is found of a social network not upholding their policy then they could be sued for it. It also seems to make it harder for social networks to remove posted URLs which point to other social networks or websites.

      In other words, would Gab have any problem with this? No, because they don't have any moderation anyway. Would Twitter? Certainly.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Different opinions...

        Forgot that Gab was shut down. Whatever the replacement for Gab is, I'm sure there is one.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Different opinions...

      Reading Techdirt's Copia filing:

      "In Bostock v. Clayton County, Ga.the Supreme Court made clear that courts do not get to rewrite the statute to infer the presence of additional language Congress did not include."

      It's so quaint how TechDirt thinks words matter in a banana republic.

      See the Supreme Court, do you really think stacking the judiciary with partisan operatives was about Roe vs Wade?

      Republicans had control of all parts of government, a majority on the Supreme Court and never once passed an anti-abortion law in that time, they did however get two of their girlfriend's babies aborted during that time to add to the long tally of Republican abortions.

      Roe vs Wade? No. It's clearly similar to [Red Map], the attempt to take permanent power by subverting the vote.

      They stacked the Supreme Court with partisans and those partisans ruled that a ballot could not be counted if the mail sorting office hadn't put it through the franking machine to stamp the date on it. So if they put partisans in control of the USPS, those partisans can simply stop ballots being put though the date stamping machine and that will void those ballots in those districts.

      They put Louis Dejoy in as head of USPS, and Robert Mike Duncan as Chairman of the board. One is a Trump major donor, the other is a Mitch McConnell PAC head.

      Trump then tells you his plan: "Get rid of the ballots and you'll have a very ... there won't be a transfer, frankly. There'll be a continuation,"

      Others in Trump circles are calling for martial law, mass arrests, Republican private militias.

      *Including* arrest of Zuckerberg, Dorsey, Cook and a lot of other press.

      Precedent is meaningless in a banana republic. Legal fine print is meaningless. You can declare Chad Wolf doesn't legally hold office, yet he still gets his salary, is still separating mothers from babies, despite the courts saying stop, and he still commands a bunch of armed officers, despite not having the legal authority to do so. So much for laws.

      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

        Re: Different opinions...

        Wouldn't deliberately failing to put mail-in ballots through the franking machine for date stamping so as to invalidate them constitute vote tampering, which I assume is a criminal offence / felony even in the USA?

        It would be interesting to see how Twitter responded in the event that Mr Trump again exhorted citizens to vote twice, once in person and once by Mail-in ballot.

        I wonder what odds are available on the date of the start of the second American civil war?

    3. ADC

      Re: Different opinions...

      ...and more comments at Techdirt:

      Justice Department Releases Its Dangerous & Unconstitutional Plan To Revise Section 230

      https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20200923/14472345369/justice-department-releases-dangerous-unconstitutional-plan-to-revise-section-230.shtml

  2. Gerard Krupa

    To spite your face

    Doesn't this focus on consistent application eradicate the public interest excuse Twitter used to avoid banning Trump over his many policy-violating tweets?

    1. chuBb. Silver badge

      Re: To spite your face

      Yes and No

      I don't think consistent means the same thing to normal people as it does those who speak legalese.

      In trumps case twitter could probably just tag all his tweets with satire to show its moderated and that's that, if the orange prat dislikes the tag don't matter twitter still get to keep the traffic and ad views.

      That said would be interesting to see how they prove large dataset mind for trends (ai) moderation is consistent and the reasoning behind it. Wonder how many inoffensive posts trigger them due to being abnormally below the offence threshold...

  3. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    "anything unlawful"

    Where? Just in the States? Or does it permit/require an operator to moderate comment/content which is lawful in the US and unlawful in the reader's locale? That could get interesting...

    1. chuBb. Silver badge

      Re: "anything unlawful"

      Same as before, so companies based in the US can claim immunity from prosecution from users posts because they refuse the status of publisher (unlike a printer manufacture whose kit may be used to print fake money, this lot tend to promote and publicise user content "trending" etc, so clearly has some editorial structure but nm they ain't publishers apparently) just means they have to work for immunity now and show there workings with regards to moderation

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: "anything unlawful"

      There are other places? [exit US mode]

      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

        Re: "anything unlawful"

        Indeed there are other places. The New Yorker published a map of the world, in 1976, which includes Canada, Japan and other exotic places:

        https://viewing.nyc/new-yorker-cover-from-1976-accurately-portrays-how-we-see-the-rest-of-the-country/

  4. Christoph

    " when they unlawfully censor speech"

    The First Amendment stops the government censoring speech. It does not make censorship by other parties unlawful.

    ObXKCD

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Now that is a link to keep handy.

  5. msobkow Silver badge

    "Anything unlawful" is deceptively restrictive. Under the proposal, any posts by a Canadian about cannabis (which is legal in Canada) would be purged from a US website with impunity, even though the content is perfectly legal for the poster.

  6. CrackedNoggin

    The result will be censorship by cost of lawsuits. Only those social media that have no mediation (e.g., the nearly deserted ones with big mouths and bad breath) will profit from this. Anybody with a political message and plenty of money will just launch continual lawsuits in well chosen districts which may go on for years, even while judicial orders require the message to remain online. This is a law only lobbyists, lawyers, and other swamp dwellers could love. From the admin of the pres who promised to clean up the swamp.

    1. CrackedNoggin

      By "censorship" I mean censorship of mediation, by mediation I mean curating information as a customer service.

    2. EagleZ28

      No moderation at all sounds like an excellent solution to me.

      The good thing about the internet... I can control the "volume"... and I can control the "channel"... and of course you don't have to put up with anyone's bad breath.

      Even better, this legislation MIGHT push the "platforms" to give the USERS more control over whose posts they see/read... or DON'T see/read, which is more to the point.

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