Senator Hawley Proposes Law To Force Internet Companies To Beg The FTC For Permission To Host Content

from the say-what-now? dept

Senate newbie Josh Hawley has made it clear that he’s no fan of big internet companies and has joined with others in suggesting that Section 230 is somehow to blame for whatever it is he dislikes (it mainly seems to be he thinks the public likes them too much). So now he’s proposed a massively stupid and clearly unconstitutional bill, called the “Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act,” to wipe out CDA 230 protections for large internet platforms. The proposal is shockingly dumb and so obviously unconstitutional it boggles the mind that Hawley is actually a constitutional lawyer.

The bill is pretty straightforward, both in how it operates, and in how misguided it is. If you’re a “big” internet platform — defined as having more than 30 million “active monthly users” in the US or more than 300 million such users globally (or having over $500 million in revenue) — then you automatically lose the protections of CDA 230. You can regain them by making a request to the FTC. In order to get them, you have to pay for an “audit” of your content moderation practices, and pro-actively “prove” via “clear and convincing evidence” that the practices are “politically neutral.” Once the you do that, the FTC would “vote” on whether or not you could get CDA 230 protections, and they would only be granted with a “supermajority vote,” which would mean at least four out of the five commissioners would have to vote for it. Since FTC Commissioners are always 3 to 2 in favor of the political party in the White House, that means any internet company that wants to get approval would need to get at least one commissioner of the non-Presidential party to vote for the immunity as well.

There’s no way this survives constitutional scrutiny (if it actually becomes law, which seems unlikely). The First Amendment pretty clearly says that Congress can’t create a law that (1) forces a company to get approval for its moderation practices and (2) judges content on whether or not it’s deemed “politically neutral.” Also, what the hell does “politically neutral” even mean? It doesn’t mean anything. And, as for “clear and convincing evidence,” tons of people have pointed to clear and convincing evidence that these platforms don’t moderate based on political viewpoints, and yet we still have tons of people insisting they do. Nothing is going to convince some people that the platforms are actively targeting conservatives, no matter how many times evidence to the contrary is presented. Hawley has set up a purposefully impossible standard. As we’ve pointed out, many people still insist that Twitter deciding to kick off literal Nazis is “evidence” of anti-conservative bias. As NetChoice points out, Hawley’s bill would require sites to host KKK propaganda just in order to obtain basic liability protections.

Is Josh Hawley truly arguing that any large website must cater to Nazis if it wants to allow public conversation? Because, damn, dude, that’s a bold call.

This is from the guy who claims to be a “Constitutional Conservative”? Really? His current bio hypes up that he’s a “leading constitutional lawyer” and talks about how he was one of the lead attorneys in the Hobby Lobby case, which was (in part) defending a company’s right to use the First Amendment to refuse to obey certain laws that violated the religious beliefs of their owners. So, apparently, in that case, it’s bad for the government to enforce rules for private businesses — but for other kinds of companies, the government should force them to moderate content in a particular way? I mean, is Hobby Lobby forced to be “politically neutral” in the products it sells in its shops? You’d expect Hawley to be at the front of the line screaming about how awful that would be. Can you imagine the stink that Hawley himself would put up if Congress attempted to force Hobby Lobby to be “politically neutral” in its own actions?

Either way, this law is a non-starter, and once again shows that Hawley isn’t legislating from any position of principle, but is grandstanding clearly unconstitutional ideas in the belief that self-identified “conservatives” hate the big internet companies these days, so any attack on them, no matter how dumb and unconstitutional, must be fine. As TechFreedom points out, this is little more than a fairness doctrine for the internet — something conservatives have been against for decades. Incredibly, for all of the misguided and misleading complaints about how “net neutrality” was the “government takeover of the internet,” Hawley’s bill actually does a bunch of the things that opponents to net neutrality pretended net neutrality would do — and yet, because it’s politically expedient, you can likely bet that many of those who were against net neutrality will now support Hawley’s ridiculous bill.

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Comments on “Senator Hawley Proposes Law To Force Internet Companies To Beg The FTC For Permission To Host Content”

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172 Comments
Large Gravitational Anomaly says:

Re: Re: Re: Got your "Irish" up there, Timmy.

gays and blacks and the irish

It’s been so long since micks were discriminated against that to one NOT Irish and highly aware of it would list them with other, so is another point where "Gary" is VERY similar to Timothy Geigner, aka "Dark Helmet".

"Gary" is in IT, works around lawyers, hates "El Cheetos", and bombasts just like Timmy too. ODD, ain’t it?

Gary (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Got your Troll

Hey remember when Blue Balls said it was awful to censor anyone? (Except Zionists of course – he hates jews.)

But Here is he demanding that I be censored. Love it!!

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20190614/20280842406/congress-now-creating-moral-panic-around-deepfakes-order-to-change-cda-230.shtml#c487

And refusing to cite, of course. Blue Balls and Tail Between Legs.

Ed 'Plow-Ed' Fields the Poet Farmer says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Rarely read "Reason" but "Gary" should! Disabuse of his notions.

Listen, Timmy, pretending to be "Gary", I don’t need support for my views, I’m just out-numbered here. But if you’ll read the comments on this (the article itself you’ll like):

https://reason.com/2019/06/19/josh-hawley-introduces-bill-to-put-washington-in-charge-of-internet-speech/

then you can wade in and give YOUR opinions on a truly free and fair forum that has no vulgarism nor screaming fanboys to support you, and learn that you’re in a TINY NUTTY minority.

Go on, Timothy / "Gary"! Give your real name there, you’re so brave, and actually compete in the realm of ideas where don’t have YOUR cheaty finger on the censor button (as an Administrator here).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Simple: they are too big to be biased, and function more like a public square.

Basically a common carrier or state actor.

Sites which want to censor content are publishers, not platforms. This law makes that clear. This is what Congress expected of Big Tech back in 1996 but the techies didn’t play along, so now it becomes explicit, and not a moment too soon.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Now that I think about it I’m kinda surprised someone hasn’t tried that, if for no other reason then to see how many people would expose their hypocrisy when it’s someone they like being told ‘You will host that speech on your private site, whether you like it or not.’

If nothing else having Black Lives Matter or some other similar group suing some racist losers in court for ‘unfairly revoking posting access’ seems like it would make for quite the news story, and be entertaining to boot.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2

The entire point of my using “White supremacist propaganda” as an example in questions similar to the one I posed is to be intentionally provocative. Such speech is offensive to a great many people. But it is still legally protected speech. If someone is willing to revoke the right of Twitter to refuse hosting it because of that status, what are they saying about themselves?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Because politics is something that should be entirely a matter for the people, so businesses (and non-citizens) should be prohibited from engaging in political activity of any kind. Businesses should either be required to be absolutely free of any activity which could plausibly influence the outcome of any political process, be fully reflective of the views of the community in strict proportion to the popularity of those views, or be a blind content-neutral intermediary (i.e. fedex can deliver campaign material provided it does so on the same terms as anything else). That’s 1/3 of the real solution to Fox, Facebook, Citizens United, and so on, but it would require a supreme court willing to say that they’ve been in error for 100+ years.

The other 2/3 of the solution to the problems plaguing modern "democracy" is a strict spending cap for people eligible to engage in politics (to equalise voters), and absolutely draconian anti-corruption laws enforced without exception or mercy to make it impossible for politicians to gain any benefit whatsoever from anyone, other than their official pay and pension.

Large Gravitational Anomaly says:

Okay, you've come out FOR censoring "literal Nazis".

Now all you have to do is deny you’ve jumped well down the "slippery slope" by deeming some VIEWS — not actions, mere VIEWS — outside of protection.

The ACLU when building credibility actually protected Nazis! They’ve since dropped it, though, because their agenda all along was to tear society apart.

You want ONLY "politically correct" leftist-corporatist-Zionist views allowed.

At least NOW you’re openly for censoring, totally betraying all your prior "free speech" blather. Those who talk about 1A are always the betrayers because they need the freedom to sow hate and discord so can divide and conquer.

And of course your interest is always for corporate power, not for individuals.

In contrast, I’ve all along advocated more "free speech" than you. — I don’t mind your views, it’s the lying that that I can’t stand. In fact you believe yourself a higher sort of person, Ivy League educated, innately superior, and entitled to force YOUR views on everyone.

Large Gravitational Anomaly says:

Re: Re: Fairness, the most essential American trait.

For what reason should a website be forced into hosting them if the site’s admins would otherwise refuse to host them?

Businesses are not persons, don’t have Rights. That was well established in the 20th C. If claim otherwise, then you advocate blacks being denied service at lunch counters. You need to get right with Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, and me, that business are mere permitted entitiies which are to be FAIR to all, NOT enforce the views of a handful of Rich OR weenies.

Large Gravitational Anomaly says:

Re: Re: Re: Fairness, the most essential American trait.

I forgot that "separate is not equal". The reach of large "platforms" is a key part of actualities.

You, as a practicing homosexual, would / do object when shunted off to the shadows right? Or do you claim some basic human right to be in same places and treated equally so long as your actions are acceptable under common law terms?

You’re essentially saying that you find some views, not actions, so out of bounds that you’re happy when out of sight. — Google doesn’t even have to index those sites, so would never be discovered.

Large Gravitational Anomaly says:

Re: Re: Re:3 OKAY, now you TOO have come out for censorship!

You’re essentially saying that you find some views, not actions, so out of bounds that you’re happy when out of sight.

Yes. Yes, I am. For what reason should people be forced into seeing White supremacist propaganda or anti-Semitic cartoons or Tucker Carlson’s face?

Red-letter day. Both Masnick and "Stone" are now openly FOR censorship, as I’ve claimed all along. Both have for years been preaching as if for "free speech" to extremes including Facebook should host videos of murders, but what they actually mean is ONLY for their "leftist-liberal-Zionist" views.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4

If someone wants to read Klan pamphlets and Chick tracts or watch Tucker Carlson’s inane drivel, they’re more than free to do so — on any platform that would host such content. But they should not have the right to force any platform that wouldn’t into doing so.

If Twitter admins enacted a ban on White supremacist propaganda today, for what reason should the government force Twitter into hosting that material against the wishes of its admins?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Flip the question: If the government wouldn’t host extremist content, for what reason should a private company be allowed to?

This is what you fail to realize:

Banning one type of speech makes it easier to ban others. You may dislike certain topics, but by banning discussion of them you’ve opened the door to banning the topics you do like. After all there is always someone who will be offended by your speech no matter what it is.

No one is forcing a user to read a post or click on a link. There are plenty of tools provided to block unsolicited posts / users. As well as tools to report abuse.

Ownership / responsibility of a post’s content, by legal definition, belongs to the poster, not the platform. If this statement is not true, then the platform has failed to meet the requirements for Section 230 protection, as the platform has taken ownership / responsibility for said content.

No user submitted content on any site is representative of the site administration’s opinions or view points. To say otherwise would be like saying Walmart / The Walton Family supports committing arson because arsonists shop at Walmart. That’s guilt through association which is a logical fallacy.

Corporate rights should never override an individual’s rights. Actually corporate "rights" shouldn’t be a thing. The people who make up a corporation have rights and can exorcise them if needed. To give a corporation "rights" just allows the executives to hide behind them when the executives mess up.

I dislike extremist content as well, but claiming that Twitter’s "rights" are being infringed because of a poster’s content, is asinine.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 'You can say what you want on your porch, not mine.'

Corporate rights should never override an individual’s rights.

And if individuals had the right to use someone else’s property to host their speech, whether or not the property owner wanted them to, and when that someone else isn’t the government, you might have a point.

But they don’t, so you don’t.

The right to free speech is not the right to consequence free speech, nor does it mean that anyone else has to provide you the platform to speak from.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6

Flip the question

That’s a cute way of dodging the question, but sure, let’s run with it.

If the government wouldn’t host extremist content, for what reason should a private company be allowed to?

Because a private company isn’t the government, and the government (of the United States) isn’t generally allowed to tell companies what speech they can and cannot host.¹ If the owners of Chick-fil-A want to host anti-LGBT propaganda on the company’s corporate website, the government literally cannot stop it. The same goes the owner of a local restaurant who wants to host pro-LGBT propaganda on their restaurant’s website.

Banning one type of speech makes it easier to ban others. You may dislike certain topics, but by banning discussion of them you’ve opened the door to banning the topics you do like. After all there is always someone who will be offended by your speech no matter what it is.

So long as the government isn’t doing the banning, I fail to see the issue. If Twitter bans talk of furries and furry art, I will flip off Jack Dorsey as I walk backwards into the Fediverse.

No one is forcing a user to read a post or click on a link. There are plenty of tools provided to block unsolicited posts / users. As well as tools to report abuse.

Users can block “objectionable” speech however they wish, yes. But platforms have every right to delete it regardless of what users can do to block it.

Ownership / responsibility of a post’s content, by legal definition, belongs to the poster, not the platform. If this statement is not true, then the platform has failed to meet the requirements for Section 230 protection, as the platform has taken ownership / responsibility for said content.

Yes, this is true.

Corporate rights should never override an individual’s rights. Actually corporate "rights" shouldn’t be a thing. The people who make up a corporation have rights and can exorcise them if needed. To give a corporation "rights" just allows the executives to hide behind them when the executives mess up.

Not that I wholly disagree with you, but until such time as the Supreme Court says otherwise (or Congress passes a constitutional amendment that says otherwise), the law is the law.

I dislike extremist content as well, but claiming that Twitter’s "rights" are being infringed because of a poster’s content, is asinine.

Forget Twitter for a moment, then, and let’s concentrate on you…with a hypothetical situation.

Assume that you own and operate a small political forum. From the forum’s inception, promotion of White supremacy (e.g., Klan propaganda) and other, similar ideologies has been banned. You don’t want it on your forum at all.

One day, you learn that the law has changed: All platforms, regardless of size or any other factors, must host all constitutionally-protected content or lose the protections of CDA 230. The government has now told you that the speech you had banned must be allowed. If you refuse to allow it, you face a penalty (loss of your CDA 230 immunities) under the law.

How would you feel about the government forcing you into hosting White supremacist propaganda on your forum against your wishes? For what reason should the government ever be able to do that?


¹ — Exceptions always exist. I hope you knew that already.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

I’d consider that a worthwhile tradeoff for forcing big media to be politically neutral, which is of far more importance than anything posted on my forum.

Not that I wholly disagree with you, but until such time as the Supreme Court says otherwise (or Congress passes a constitutional amendment that says otherwise), the law is the law.

Unfortunately the only hope of getting a supreme court or congress which isn’t fundamentally corrupt is a sustained campaign of revolutionary justice, not just against incumbents but against all their replacements until the corporate/political elite run out of (willing or unwitting) stooges. I for one am too scared to try, and even if I wasn’t there aren’t enough of me to succeed on my own.

Large Gravitational Anomaly says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Fairness, the most essential American trait.

What about the owners or shareholders, do they have rights in relation to their investment in the business?

First, what about their employees? Are those to be disposable like a truck? Do you want starving wage slaves too? No health care?

What a narrow financial view. You worship Mammon. Money is your only consideration, eh?

Large Gravitational Anomaly says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Fairness, the most essential American trait.

Corporations are also to serve The Public’s interests. That’s why they are permitted in the first place.

Now, someone is bound to bring up the supposed "law" that corporations are required to serve shareholders. –EXACTLY. And WHO do you suppose got such laws passed except the Thieving Rich who have plenty of advantages and luxuries already, but want to enjoy workers being literally enslaved too?

The little employees get was wrested from The Rich after bloody struggles by Real Socialists, not born rich ma snicks who pretend to be, and now the good times are fading into corporatized HELL.

[Wouldn’t go in whole, so 2nd piece…]

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Fairness, the most essential American trait.

No. In their personal capacity they can use their dividends to fund their own political activities just as employees can spend their wages (assuming they are a voter, otherwise they should also be banned), but the corporation itself should have no rights which are not absolutely essential to trade.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Imagine, for a moment, that you own a website that allows for user-generated content. How would you feel if you were told by a government official that you had to allow anyone to post any kind of constitutionally protected speech — including spam and any sort of “distasteful” speech you would not otherwise want to host — or face a penalty under the law?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 'Forcing speech is great! ... unless I don't like it.'

Oh not at all, while it’s absolutely vital that the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Youtube be ‘politically neutral’, due to how large an influence and user-base they have, it would be just downright tyrannical to enforce neutrality on a teeny-tiny, barely influential show like Fox News.

I mean, it’s not like anyone of significance watches that, either individually or in large numbers, and who might be swayed by what’s on it, so the idea that they should be required to be politically neutral is totally different and downright Orwellian.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3

Oh, yes, I remember that baker’s name: Michael McDoesn’texist.

For the record, every ruling in the Masterpiece Cakeshop legal battle (prior to SCOTUS kicking the can back down the road) said nothing about the business being forced to bake any sort of cake for the plaintiffs. The entire case was about whether the refusal to bake any sort of cake for the plaintiffs, regardless of any potential decorations, violated Colorado’s non-discrimination ordinance. The ordinance would not allow the Colorado state government to make Masterpiece sell a cake to a gay couple — but it could allow said government to fine Masterpiece for violating the ordinance. (If there are any other possible consequences for violations, first-time or repeat, I am unaware of those.) If Masterpiece’s owners could afford to pay the fine multiple times, they could theoretically continue to violate the ordinance.

Next time you wanna trot out a line like that, at least offer an actual example of it happening. Destroying a bunch of ignorant anti-queer bullshit with actual facts is getting motononous.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I would sell the site that has 1Billion posters, whom I have no control over, and create a new private site that is all rainbows and unicorns and only invite my friends

How do you feel about the baker being sued to bake a cake?

Why don’t you inform your friends the baker can do whatever the fuck he wants, including retire. Would he be forced out of retirement if LGBTQ+2~ wins their case?

At what age do you think a child has mentally developed enough to determine what, if any, gender they are?

Igualmente69 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Fairness, the most essential American trait.

"Businesses are not persons, don’t have Rights."
So then newspapers can have their content edited by the government, since they are businesses?
"If claim otherwise, then you advocate blacks being denied service at lunch counters"
Some awesome logic on display right there.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Fairness, the most essential American trait.

So then newspapers can have their content edited by the government, since they are businesses?

No, they cannot. Because the authors who wrote the stories that the newspaper printed have the right to freedom of speech. Which would be infringed if the government did that. A newspaper as a whole is protected by the collective rights of those who wrote it. It needs no special rights of it’s own.

Large Gravitational Anomaly says:

Re: Okay, you've come out FOR censoring "literal Nazis&quot

As TechFreedom points out, this is little more than a fairness doctrine for the internet — something conservatives have been against for decades

Not true. Rush Limbaugh attributes his rise to dropping Fairness Doctrine, but I don’t regard him as "conservative". He was for NAFTA. He’s a huge war-monger. He’s for big business and lower taxes on The Rich. He didn’t even found the "EIB" network, was just the front man hired. — By whom, you ask? The usual. — In short, those are not "conservative" views, but "neo-conservative" and exactly the "capitalist", "neo-liberal", corporatist views of Masnick! No coincidence.

"Conservatives" is just a word used to trick conservatives.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: He's gone full moron!

Those who talk about 1A are always the betrayers

Well wouldn’t that make you a betrayer then since you constantly scream about it?

According to that logic, nobody should EVER talk about First Amendment rights because if they do they are automatically wrong, evil and betrayers of all mankind. Come on, you’re making this way too easy to rip your logic apart.

And of course your interest is always for corporate power, not for individuals.

Says the individual freely ranting and raving on the internet.

In contrast, I’ve all along advocated more "free speech" than you.

Ah but that makes you a betrayer because you talk about it. So why should we believe you?

I don’t mind your views

Pfft. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!

it’s the lying that that I can’t stand

Right back at ya.

Anonymous Coward says:

War can often be avoided by firing the biggest shot possible...

Don’t believe? Look at the Nuke dropped by the US, it stopped the war.

So how do you win the copyright wars? By having the biggest hammer and the loudest voice. It doesn’t matter who’s right or what’s said, it matters who hears it, and when the corporations control all the access to mass media, you can bet that only certain voices will be allowed to be heard.

Control of the media backbone has already been established (AT&T owns it all), and is being constantly expanded (eroding others rights, absorbing their functionality and technology, not upgrading existing technology, etc), the next step (currently in play for the last 5-10 years) is corporate control of the media (ie. taking away the public voice, sure you can go down to the corner and yell at everyone, but when your ability to communicate online is limited to point to point options (e-mail, individual messaging,etc), it will be too late.

This will not happen outright, but by behind the back tactics and gurellia methods… like planting ‘seeds’ about existing laws like CDA230, claiming that it ‘enables free speech and sharing of ideas we haven’t licensed and don’t like’. Enough of the sheeple will believe the claims, and they will talk to the 4-5 people they can contact and let them know what their views are.

Grassroots won’t be as easy when it’s real grass that we have to gather on in order to discuss something with more than one individual at a time.

OH, and Fukitabout comments, these won’t even exist, so take a picture (non-digital) to share with your grandkids what ‘real communication’ was like, back when you had to walk 5 miles uphill both ways just to take the High school equivalency test (how do you use the 3 sea shells? is the only question, it’s hard to tell why we don’t have any more high school graduates and everyone has to go into the "Corps" (official acronym for the ‘Corporation Officially Recognizing Peoples Service" – the only choice for those not receiving a high school diploma (last one was issued in 2025), where the corporations generously pay individuals $.25 per day for 10 hours of labor (almost 1/10th of what the high school graduates make now days), or enough to almost feed one individual for one day if buying from the Company Store (yep that’s a thing now, your ‘pay’ is only good at the Company Store)…

We all owe our souls to the company store someday… sooner or later.

Thad (profile) says:

Something I said in a previous comment thread:

Hawley could turn out to be an ally when it comes to online privacy and competition (regardless of whether I agree with him on other issues). But coming at it from a moral panic perspective, with cherry-picked research to support his existing viewpoint, is not a good look. Like Warren, I think he may very well want the right thing, but how they go about it matters, and I think both of them could stand to be better-informed on these issues.

I’ll add that this bill is very, very dumb, and if it’s representative of what Hawley intends to do to promote competition among social networking platforms, then he’s not going to be much help on that front. Or quite possibly any front.

Optical Point (profile) says:

Don’t Jinx This, Please.

There’s no way this survives constitutional scrutiny (if it actually becomes law, which seems unlikely).
I wouldn’t be so sure of it, Masnick. Remember how the European Union managed to pass the Copyright Directive despite the obvious consequences and concerns from both the public and legal experts? Remember how Ajit Pai of the FCC managed to repeal Net Neutrality despite the legal opposition? Odds are that Senator Hawley will find a way to have his fellow party members pass this absurd unconstitutional action. As an American, this is deeply troubling.

Thad (profile) says:

Re: Don’t Jinx This, Please.

Odds are that Senator Hawley will find a way to have his fellow party members pass this absurd unconstitutional action.

He’d need every Senate Republican plus seven Senate Democrats to break a filibuster. Then Nancy Pelosi to bring it to the floor in the House (which, by convention*, will only happen if a majority of House Democrats support it).

Even if Hawley’s bill has the support of "his fellow party members" — and that remains to be seen; I think it’s safe to assume that Ted Cruz is onboard given his similar comments, but I’m much less certain it’ll get the support of guys like Rand Paul — that’s still not enough to pass it into law. It’ll need bipartisan support to do that.

  • The Hastert Rule, named for noted child molester Dennis Hastert. I am not a fan of Hastert or his rule.
Thad (profile) says:

Re: Re: Don’t Jinx This, Please.

Adding: Via a little further reading, Pelosi doesn’t seem to think much of the Hastert Rule (to her credit; it’s a bullshit rule), so that’s probably not a reason she’d avoid bringing this (or any) bill to the House floor.

Nonetheless, it would still have to pass the Senate, and would need every House Republican plus 20 House Democrats in order to pass. That still seems unlikely, and still means that Hawley can’t pass this with Republican support alone.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: FOSTA called, something about 'screwing the public is bipartisan

Given both parties have been throwing tantrums/fearmongering over 230 for their respective reasons, something Pelosi has also joined in on(suggesting she would not be against such a law) I wouldn’t put the odds as low as you seem to think they are.

Yes it would require support from both parties, but as past fearmongering-based laws like FOSTA make clear that’s not an impossible hurdle.

Thad (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 FOSTA called, something about 'screwing the public is bipart

Yes, but I think "for their respective reasons" is a clear qualifier here. Hawley’s fearmongering is explicitly based on the accusation that the big platforms are censoring conservative speech. For that reason, I think it’s going to have trouble attracting Democratic support.

I think FOSTA is indeed an instructive example of how an anti-230 bill can pass with massive bipartisan support: through "think of the children!" moral panic, and a strategy that merely chips away at 230 instead of completely gutting it.

I’m not saying we won’t see a bipartisan bill that strips away intermediary liability. I’m saying this specific bill ain’t it, because it’s too showy and too flagrantly partisan.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 FOSTA called, something about 'screwing the public is bi

if comes anywheres near to passing, you better sell any property you own in in the big tech hubs of the USA, becuase tech companies to leave the United States to avoid liability.

If they are no longer in the USA, then this law would not affect them.

This law will take good paying high tech jobs and send them offshore.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Don’t Jinx This, Please.

Remember that the EU constitution is only interested in preventing inconvenient leftism and really blatant nazi-like politics (specific provisions in the Treaty of Lisbon were written to punish Austria if they elected the FPÖ), so the only barriers to things like the copyright directive are institutional.

In the US, the constitution has a broader scope and justices have their own agenda (and a filtering process to make sure that it is rare for someone who disagrees with major decisions to have a distinguished enough career to be nominated, so major bad decisions are hard to reverse). Depending on how the business community splits factionally, I don’t think it is all that likely that the republicans will stack SCOTUS with justices willing to allow this (because undermining corporate human rights will in the long run help the left more than the right), but passing the law and blaming evil biased judges is a common political stunt.

ECA (profile) says:

WHO??

Senate newbie Josh Hawley

Joshua David Hawley is an American attorney and Republican politician, currently serving as the junior United States Senator for Missouri. Hawley served as the 42nd Attorney General of Missouri from 2017 to 2019, before defeating two-term Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill in the 2018.

Education Stanford University (BA) He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Stanford University in 2002,

Yale University (JD) attended Yale Law School, where he led the school’s chapter of the Federalist Society[3] and received a Juris Doctor degree in 2006.[4]
Ummm, NOT A LAWYER in standing..

Spent allot of time with/as Church related Lawyer..

Umm, read the Wiki..
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josh_Hawley

IMO, I think he left allot undone..

Large Gravitational Anomaly says:

Techdirt's fanboys make a good case for censoring -- of them.

Whew. What a cesspit you clowns make. I just have to thank you for removing my comments from the muck. (Yes, ’cause all I can do!) But your censoring only points up which should be read — were there anyone reasonable.

AND THIRD TIME TODAY, suddenly the working browser session quit! ODD, ain’t it?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

thank you for removing my comments

Your comments haven’t been removed, no matter how hard you try to sell it. They are still there for all to see in all their glorious stupidity.

But your censoring only points up which should be read

Some people think the moon landing was faked. That doesn’t mean they should be listened to.

AND THIRD TIME TODAY, suddenly the working browser session quit! ODD, ain’t it?

Or you are just changing your VPN and lying about it. Which is probably more likely.

Ed 'Plow-Ed' Fields the Poet Farmer says:

Re: Re: Techdirt downvotes Trolls

Hey, before seeing this one, I challenged you on another comment to go to "Reason" and spew YOUR drivel there!

You’ll be answered reasonably and far more eloquently than my farmer skills allow, but shut down totallly. DARE YA.

You won’t be able to go CRAZY like you have here — too many for me to count — after I’d left — because YOU WOULD BE MODERATED THERE. Not me. YOU.

Gary (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Techdirt downvotes Trolls

Ok, ok, I’m dying here Blue Balls.
After challenging you to back up your viewpoints, explain your contradictions, explain how I’m lying when I point out your lies, call you on your white power rhetoric, and point to your frequent racist attacks…

You run away and cry, "But those smart Randians will make short work of you! You can’t make fun of me there!"

Is Reason the fruit of your labor? Does Reason have a no moderation policy? Hmmm. Seems like you claim that they will censor my speech there.

How does this make sense to you? Run away with your blue balls, and your tail between your legs ya cornfed coward.

David says:

Politically neutral

Also, what the hell does "politically neutral" even mean? It doesn’t mean anything.

It means that for every truth there must be equal voice given to the untruth.

Or more exactly, to every single untruth. A truth content of 50% would be too good to be true when really talking about politics.

ECA (profile) says:

Re: Politically neutral

Neutral means BOTH sides have an opinion..
And both sides say they can prove it..
But can they..
The Future isnt Static. and anything can happen.
the Past is static, and we Made laws After the fact, that Helped FIX most of it…Until recently when they have removed MOST of those laws..
Why would Smart knowledgeable, people remove laws that are supposed to protec the Citizens?? Hmmm…
What truth, made them obsolete?

Anonymous Coward says:

GOOD!

Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc are acting like Platforms and Publishers at the same time so they get the benefits of both.

Those tech platforms that I mentioned have flat-out stated that they don’t follow or uphold the 1st Amendment and Free Speech. They’re moving to a European style "privileged speech".

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jlqYJg96kk

Tim Pool does a better job at discussing this than you do.

ECA (profile) says:

Re: GOOD!

Dear AC…
Show me something THEY published…
If you mean they got it from another site and then Linked to it..
That is Aggregation..not publishing.
they advert…all over the place. Which isnt publishing..
And show me a post where they say they dont, honor the 1st amendment..And you should understand something.. Google is a supplier, NOT the creator of 99% of the sites they own. They rent/lease them to other…
Who do you think SHOULD be responsible?? Google, The creator, or the PEST that posted something on that site??
and if you say google, I will hold you for Everything your DOG/CHILD/WIFE does that is STUPID, no matter the age.

KEVIN FEARS says:

FOLLOW THE MONEY.

I won’t pretend to know the details of either side. I’ll just point out the tactics used, and the obvious reasons for them. I’ve followed this site for a while. not because they’re right, but because other than the EFF, it’s hard to find an unbiased opinion with verifiable facts.

  1. you love to pretend you are the if so facto ‘voice and conscience of the community with commentary like, "as we all know" to imply that you have all of our desires at your heart. [Another Analcrat running for office.][Run From the Bull! Watch the Horns!]
    1. then you push your agenda by repeating as many time as possible, and in as many ways, how stupid your opposition is. Even the Pres. only repeats twice. it’s a tactic used to sway your audience. kind of subliminally. hoping that they are simple minded,reactionary knee-jerks who just go with the flow.
  2. the trick to this, is to look at the OVERPLAYING of the hand. {Drama for ‘Dumbies’]
    when you see this, look for what would the speaker’s motivation be. in this case… probably bribes and off the record perks.
    But, that’s just my theory.
    i.e. What possible reason would a politician want sanctuary cities and open boarders unless it was for votes, money, sex, drugs, and a little human slave on the side doesn’t hurt anyone who doesn’t know. Right?
    This, like everything else, falls under Shakespeare… [paraphrase] "Methinks thou protest’s too much and therefore looks suspicious. Also, thou art a dunderhead. Aren’t thou?"
Ed 'Plow-Ed' Fields the Poet Farmer says:

I rarely read "Reason", but MM should! Disabuse of his notions.

Listen, Masnick, I don’t need support for my views, I’m just out-numbered here. But if you’ll read the comments on this (the article itself you’ll like):

https://reason.com/2019/06/19/josh-hawley-introduces-bill-to-put-washington-in-charge-of-internet-speech/

then you can wade in and give YOUR opinions on a truly free and fair forum that has no vulgarism nor screaming fanboys to support you, and learn that you’re in a TINY NUTTY minority.

Go on, Masnick! Give your real name there, you’re so brave, and actually compete in the realm of ideas where don’t have YOUR cheaty finger on the censor button.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Consistent. Slimy, but consistent

This is from the guy who claims to be a "Constitutional Conservative"? Really? His current bio hypes up that he’s a "leading constitutional lawyer" and talks about how he was one of the lead attorneys in the Hobby Lobby case, which was (in part) defending a company’s right to use the First Amendment to refuse to obey certain laws that violated the religious beliefs of their owners. So, apparently, in that case, it’s bad for the government to enforce rules for private businesses — but for other kinds of companies, the government should force them to moderate content in a particular way?

Easy to explain: Companies should be free to act in accordance with what he agrees with, and not free to act in ways that he doesn’t agree with. He’ll support the rights of companies to do what they want so long as he likes the outcome, but the second he doesn’t now it’s time for the government to step in and force them to do it ‘right’.

Anonymous Coward says:

Then watch websites move outside of the United States, where that law would not apply.

Two really popular figure skating sites are examples of this. GoldenSkate and Figure Skating Universe are in Canada and Britain, respectively.

GoldenSkate only has to obey Canadian laws as they are in Canada and Figure Skating Universe only has to obey British laws, as they are in Britain.,

United States laws do not apply to either website because neither site has any servers or offices in the United States.

Anonymous Coward says:

I could this causing CalExit to get in the ballot in 2020. Since YouTube and all the big sites would be in California, they would no longer have to obey.

And if CalExit should result in the Republic Of Silicon Valley splitting off from California, websites there would only have to obey Siliconian laws. US laws would not apply in the Republic Of Silicon Valley.

Anonymous Coward says:

Wow, I was censored for the last twelve hours this time.

Tying Section 230 immunity to political neutrality is well within Congress’s rights. Section 230 is not a constitutional right, but a privilege that can and has been abused. When it was passed, neither AOL, Prodigy, CompuServe, nor other ISPs were collectively blackballing political points of view, and USENET was thriving even if they were (actually the minor blackballing of some men’s groups led to the creation of the alt-right).

There was an ASSUMPTION by Congress that Section 230 immunity was predicated on the internet platforms being "dumb pipes" who moderated only to reduce SPAM or illegal conduct, not to shape public discourse and debate to the point of controlling policy. Tech companies knew this, deliberately did not honor the implied agreement, and now Congress is going to make that agreement explicit.

This will not be the death of the internet: notice and takedown works just fine (even without 230 notice is still required and must be ignored for liability to kick in), and this is how the rest of the world still has UGC and comments sections, such as those at papers in the UK and AUS.

The bill would be greatly improved by two additions: elimination of the single-publication rule, so that people can sue the original authors and get defamatory content removed (with intermediares required to obey court orders), and in cases of ANONYMOUS or untraceable defamation (anything traceable to other countries can be handled ex-parte), since third-party authorship is not proven, the content must come down and the author must step forward to counterclaim. This would preserve 230 immunity while also allowing individuals to protect their reputations.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

This goes beyond that. This basically says that with a "license" from the FTC, you become liable for what your users do, even if you are a "dumb pipe".

Based on this, I could see Comcast, and all other major cable Internet providers having to get FTC licenses as well to have CDA 230 immunity.

Then, like I said, this looks like a scheme to make FTC members much richer, and they are sure to take money to buy their votes.

And such tranasctions could be done using Bitcoin. The way bitcoin works, they cannot trace where it came from, which is why India is on track to become the first country in the world make cryptocurrency usage a crime.

The way bitcoin works, you can use it to hide money you don’t want found. That is why, for example, California enacted section 1275 PC so that you have to prove that bail money came from legitmate sources. The way Bitcoin works, you can hide money where the government will never be able to trace it, which is why India is about to become the first country in the world to make cryptocurrency a crime.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Those largest of platforms who would acquire FTC licenses would be the only corporations who could possibly afford absolute watchdog moderation, instilling fear into the hearts of other platforms with a stifling effect on speech should they allow a dissenting voice that the government hates.. HATES.

Anonymous Coward says:

Masnick has been censoring me a great deal lately, though periodically I can post.

Says a lot about this site that it "moderates" stuff that way.

As for conservative bias, LiveAction (a pro-life group which is not extreme) has been banned recently, while Candace Owens (a conservative Black female) also had issues with one of the major sites.

This law will NOT apply to any of the smaller sites, who will retain full immunity under 230. That’s fine because they aren’t like the search engines that spit out anything defamatory they pick up on the web.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Yeah, posting about stalker landlords and insulting women for marrying men you think aren’t worth female company turns out to be considered spammy, antisocial, undesirable behavior. Who would have thought?

Nobody’s dumb enough to think you’re not hoping for smaller sites to fall under this proposed law.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

Handling two posts in one, try to keep up.

Tying Section 230 immunity to political neutrality is well within Congress’s rights.

Please define “political neutrality” in re: user-generated content, then explain how it should be tied to CDA 230 immunities.

There was an ASSUMPTION by Congress that Section 230 immunity was predicated on the internet platforms being "dumb pipes" who moderated only to reduce SPAM or illegal conduct

Platforms have never moderated only for spam reduction or punishing/preventing illegal conduct. If you believe otherwise, I can offer you my experience in imageboard moderation. And no, Congress never assumed “neutrality” on platforms as an “exchange” for CDA 230. If you could prove that statement, you would have.

notice and takedown works just fine

Yes, if you ignore all the false-flag takedowns, the mistakes made by people filing takedowns (e.g., corporations dinging sites they own when filing DMCAs with Google), and the fact that notice-and-takedown is a censorship scheme that can work anywhere from a minimum of two weeks to forever. But sure, take all that out of the equation…

This would preserve 230 immunity while also allowing individuals to protect their reputations.

Hey, guess what? Even if we left CDA 230 as-is, people can still protect their reputations by using the courts to have content declared defamatory.

Masnick has been censoring me a great deal lately, though periodically I can post. Says a lot about this site that it "moderates" stuff that way.

If the Techdirt spamfilters mistake your posts for spam, maybe the issue is one of PEBCAK.

As for conservative bias, LiveAction (a pro-life group which is not extreme) has been banned recently, while Candace Owens (a conservative Black female) also had issues with one of the major sites.

Just out of curiosity: Did either one of those entities violate the TOS in some way?

This law will NOT apply to any of the smaller sites

…until it does. A law designed for this purpose opens the door for application to all sites. If you think this will stop at Twitter, you’re not seeing the bigger picture.

they aren’t like the search engines that spit out anything defamatory they pick up on the web

Search engines scrape what’s there. If “what’s there” is defamatory, Google isn’t at fault for putting it “there” in the first place.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yes, if you ignore all the false-flag takedowns, the mistakes made by people filing takedowns (e.g., corporations dinging sites they own when filing DMCAs with Google), and the fact that notice-and-takedown is a censorship scheme that can work anywhere from a minimum of two weeks to forever. But sure, take all that out of the equation…

Of course, if you assume that those are features rather than bugs then the original statement of it ‘working fine’ becomes entirely true, because it’s great for those things.

Of course the real gem with supporting a notice-and-takedown system and attacking the legal protection 230 offers, beyond the issues you point out, is that the same person advocating those two things is also throwing a tantrum because their comments keep getting caught in the spam filter(for reasons clear to everyone but them, and even they probably know), something that everyone would have to deal with(at best) if sites were liable for content that they didn’t post and anything could be taken down on accusation. The gross hypocrisy and dishonesty is just downright golden.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Search engines scrape what’s there. If “what’s there” is defamatory, Google isn’t at fault for putting it “there” in the first place.

They’re at fault as distributors if they are put on notice and ignore that notice, but, for now, in America, and only online, they are immune from liability for the separate harm they inflict, thanks to Section 230.

By leaving the defamation intact, it becomes a ticking time bomb for those who find it and are foolish enough to repeat it in a way that "reiterates" it in their own words, making them the publisher.

Section 230 also enables false advertising to the point of perhaps tipping a national election, and many consumer decisions from honest companies to the competitors whose "marketing" involves defamation. The locksmith case showed clear harm inflicted by the search engines, but the court ruled Section 230 immunized them from that harm. If you support 230, you are supporting taking away redress for those it harms. Without that harm, there would be nothing for which to immunize.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

By leaving the defamation intact, it becomes a ticking time bomb for those who find it and are foolish enough to repeat it in a way that "reiterates" it in their own words, making them the publisher.

And what if someone finds the defamatory content without the help of Google or any other search engine — should Google still be held liable for linking to it despite not knowing it was defamatory?

Also: If someone is stupid enough to repeat something they found online without thinking through the consequences of doing so, that’s their fault, not Google’s.

Section 230 also enables false advertising

No. No, it doesn’t.

The locksmith case showed clear harm inflicted by the search engines, but the court ruled Section 230 immunized them from that harm.

Gee, I wonder why~.

If you support 230, you are supporting taking away redress for those it harms. Without that harm, there would be nothing for which to immunize

CDA 230 doesn’t apply only to search engines, you know. It applies to sites like this one. It applies to Twitter. It applies to FurAffinity, Discord, LiveJournal, Backpa…okay maybe not that one, but basically any website that even remotely allows for third-party contributions. Any change to CDA 230 will affect thousands of websites, including this site right here, in a way where hosting UGC — like your asinine comments — would become untenable.

If Techdirt were to stop accepting comments tomorrow, would you consider that a win for “people fighting defamation” or a loss for you and your ability to talk shit about Mike Masnick’s wife?

Wendy Cockcroft (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

By leaving the defamation intact, it becomes a ticking time bomb for those who find it and are foolish enough to repeat it in a way that "reiterates" it in their own words, making them the publisher.

I’ve had defamatory statements about me repeated by yourself, Jhon, and guess what? No harm done, not even a call to discuss it with managers. The original troll is long gone.

For the umpteenth time, your reputation is predicated on your own conduct, not on what others say about you, which merely causes people to check you out.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

For the umpteenth time, your reputation is predicated on your own conduct, not on what others say about you, which merely causes people to check you out.

Which suggests a possible explanation regarding the rabidness they have regarding the subject, assuming it’s not just part of their trolling act.

Someone said bad things about you, people checked the claims and found them to be lacking, and you came out alright.

On the other hand if the negative claims made about some hypothetical individual happened to be true(if not understated), then the act of verifying them will merely confirm just how bad the person in question is, such that the only way to avoid that is to make it so people don’t even hear the claims originally.

DNY (profile) says:

A simpler approach

The same thing can be accomplished more effectively without empowering bureaucrats by making Section 230 protections dependent upon non-removal and equal treatment with regard to offers of revenue streams from advertising of all legal content.

Yes, you can take down content that prima facia meets the definition of a true threat, yes you can take down child porn (in each of those cases reporting the matter to appropriate authorities), yes, you can perform DMCA takedowns, but if it’s legal to publish, if you want to have Section 230 protections it stays up, and the host can’t demonetize it because they don’t like the content (if they offered users/subscriber a way to earn ad revenue in the first place). Let hosts comment on content (e.g "Goggle content monitoring believes this blog contains Holocaust denial," or "Facebook content monitoring thinks this post is false and over-the-top rude.") but not censor, edit or otherwise control user/subscriber posted content.

Is this a violation of free market principles? Well the government is giving protection from liability that otherwise in an environment regulated only by case law would attach to the ISP or hosting platform, so the government can impose conditions on the grant of immunity.

DNY (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

If Twitter is a publisher, then it shouldn’t have Section 230 protection. The whole basis for Section 230 was that the platform (note, platform, not publisher) is not responsible for the content posted by others.

So, no Twitter should need to publish white supremacist content, but if it’s a platform, not a publisher, I would suggest as a way forward on the issue of censorship by internet platforms it should be required to allow its users to publish any legal content they want.

DNY (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Sorry, misread your comment.

Why should Twitter be required to host white supremacist content? Because once you give them the right to suppress legal content, you can’t put a bound on it. First it’s white supremacist content, then the posts from feminists who object to transwomen competing in women’s sport, then classical liberal critiques of affirmative action, then advocacy of some policy the management of Twitter fancies is bad for their bottom line, then when some right-wing billionaire gets a controlling interest all posts from queergender advocates, pro-abortion posters, etc.

Twitter is a natural monopoly that purports to be an open platform. Regulate it to make it open.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Wrong comparison

Well the government is giving protection from liability that otherwise in an environment regulated only by case law would attach to the ISP or hosting platform

As I’ve noted in the past it’s a mistake to treat 230 protections as ‘special’ ones, something extra that online companies get, as all it really is is granting online companies the same protections offline companies get by default, namely ‘the company is not to be held liable for content others create using their product/platform’.

You can’t sue a newspaper because someone took a printed copy and scribbled something defamatory on it.

You can’t sue a bookseller or publisher because someone slipped an illegal picture it a book.

You wouldn’t be able to sell a studio because someone cracked open a CD/DVD case and hid a packet of drugs in it.

And you can’t sue an open platform like Facebook because someone used their platform to post something illegal.

230 shouldn’t have even been needed, as all it really does is level the playing field and make it explicit that the protections against liability for third party content/actions that offline companies enjoy are protections that online companies get as well.

Anonymous Coward says:

If platforms have to stop moderating to get 230 protection, then Congress will have to pass a law saying that platforms here in the US only have to obey Us laws, and that other countries cannot enforce their laws here.

With GPDR and the copyright directive in the EU, such a law will be necessary so that sites cannot be held liable for violating those EU laws, as long as they obey US laws, bascially saying, "we are not going to copperate with other countries, as long as no US laws are broken"

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re:

If platforms have to stop moderating to get 230 protection,

They don’t (perhaps you were proposing a hypothetical).

Congress will have to pass a law saying that platforms here in the US only have to obey Us laws, and that other countries cannot enforce their laws here.

There’s already a law kind of like that:

"The Securing the Protection of our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage (SPEECH) Act is a 2010 federal statutory law in the United States that makes foreign libel judgments unenforceable in U.S. courts, unless either the foreign legislation applied offers at least as much protection as the U.S. First Amendment (concerning free speech), or the defendant would have been found liable even if the case had been heard under U.S. law."

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