As A Parting Shot, Tulsi Gabbard Teams Up With Paul Gosar To Introduce Yet Another Unconstitutional Attack On Section 230
from the tis-the-season dept
Back in October, Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (who is leaving Congress in a few weeks) and Paul Gosar (whose had six of his own siblings tell voters that their brother should not be in Congress), teamed up to introduce an incredibly stupid anti-Section 230 bill, which would take 230’s liability protections away from any site that does basic data tracking or has an algorithmically generated feed.
Apparently that wasn’t enough, because they’ve now teamed up to introduce a second anti-230 bill that is (would you believe it?) even more ridiculous. They’re calling it the “Break Up Big Tech Act.”
The Breakup Big Tech Act of 2020 would take away legal immunity from interactive computer service providers that engage in certain manipulative activities, including social media companies who act as publishers by moderating and censoring content. Specifically, the Breakup Big Tech Act of 2020 would remove legal immunity for providers that engage in the following activities:
- Selling and displaying personalized as well as contextual advertising without user?s consent
- Collecting data for commercial purposes other than the direct sale of the interactive computer service, i.e. turning the user into a commodity or otherwise monetizing the transmission of content
- Acting as a marketplace in the digital space by facilitating the placement of items into the stream of commerce
- Employing digital products and designs intended to engage and addict users to the service
- Acting as a publisher by using algorithms to moderate or censor content without opt-in from users
Now there are certainly plenty of legitimate questions to be had about that list of activities, and whether or not they should be allowed, or how and if they should be regulated. Those should all be subject to some level of debate and discussion. But to say “just wipe out 230’s liability protections” for any company that does any of those things… is legitimately crazy.
This bill is going nowhere, because this Congress is basically over, so I won’t go point by point on how stupid a bill this is, but I’ll just note that last point is punishing a company for making editorial choices, and the 1st Amendment would probably like to explain to Gabbard and Gosar just how incredibly unconstitutional that would be.
Gabbard still really seems to be smarting from the fact that her dumb lawsuit against Google was easily dismissed. But here’s the key: the lawsuit was dismissed on 1st Amendment grounds, not because of 230. And changing 230 doesn’t change the 1st Amendment (which she swore to protect and uphold, but apparently doesn’t care about).