North Dakota's New Anti-230 Bill Would Let Nazis Sue You For Reporting Their Content To Twitter

from the i-just-can't-even dept

Earlier this month, we wrote about how various Republicans in state legislatures were introducing blatantly unconstitutional bills that tried to do away with Section 230 and which all attempted to block the ability of websites to do any content moderation. Many of the bills were nearly identical (and may have come from Chris Sevier, the profoundly troubled individual, who somehow keeps convincing state legislators to introduce blatantly unconstitutional bills that attack speech online). One of the bills we mentioned was from North Dakota. Lawyer Akiva Cohen points out that the North Dakota bill has been updated… and (incredibly) made even more blatantly unconstitutional.

Most notably, the new amendment from Rep. Tom Kading, would not only gut Section 230, but would stop any website from doing any moderation of any user for their viewpoints. Any viewpoints. Anywhere (even off platform). And then… it adds in a private cause of action, saying that would allow a user to sue any website for moderation:

That says:

A user residing in, doing business in, sharing expression in, or receiving expression in this state may bring a civil action in any court of this state against a social media platform or interactive computer service for violation of this chapter against the user, and upon finding the defendant has violated or is violating the user’s rights under this chapter, the court shall award:

  1. Declaratory relief;
  2. Injunctive relief;
  3. Treble damages or, at the plaintiff’s option, statutory damages of up to fifty thousand dollars; and
  4. Costs and reasonable attorney’s fees.

That’s already bad, but it gets worse, because it also creates a private cause of action against anyone “aiding and abetting” the moderation:

That one says:

A user residing in, doing business in, sharing expression in, or receiving expression in this state may bring a civil action in any court of this state against any person who aids or abets a violation of this chapter against the user, and upon finding the defendant has violated or is violating the user’s rights under this chapter, the court shall award:

  1. Declaratory relief;
  2. Injunctive relief;
  3. Treble damages or, at the plaintiff’s option, statutory damages of up to fifty thousand dollars; and
  4. Costs and reasonable attorney’s fees.

In other words, if you report a Nazi to Twitter, the Nazi can sue you for $50,000. Plus attorney’s fees. What the actual fuck are they doing up there in North Dakota? And has it eaten their brains?

The only saving grace of this disastrously unconstitutional bill is that it moots itself. That’s because it also has a clause that says that it “does not subject a social media platform or interactive computer service to any remedy or cause of action from which the social media platform or interactive computer service is protected by federal law.”

So, um… Section 230 is federal law and it protects against literally everything in this bill. In other words, the only thing this bill serves as is a weird poison pill that if Section 230 is repealed or otherwise modified, then it might allow anyone in North Dakota to sue users for reporting their content to a social media platform.

Jerry Lambe, over at Law & Crime, reached out to Rep. Kading to ask about this bill and Kading’s response is so ridiculous that it calls into question how this guy got elected.

?Social media may still censor within the constraints of Section 230. For example censorship of obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable content is completely appropriate under the bill,? he said in an email to Law&Crime. ?If the neo-Nazi was censored for such, then the bill would not apply. Though section 230 gives broad protection, it does not protect against censorship outside the scope noted or prohibit regulation if consistent with the section. The bill does not affect any reporting actions.?

As Ari Cohn points out, this is both incoherent and suggests that Kading has no clue about how Section 230 or the 1st Amendment actually work. The 1st Amendment is what gives websites the right to remove whatever content they want. Section 230 just helps them get out of lawsuits over those removals faster. On top of that, the list that Kading mentions from “obscene” to “otherwise objectionable” is only in Section (c)(2) of the law, which almost never shows up in court cases. Courts have made it clear that Section (c)(1), which has no such limitations, is what enables cases to be dismissed regarding moderation choices.

You’d think that maybe someone like Kading would have bothered to learn some of this before (1) introducing a bill or (2) responding to a reporter’s question about the bill. But apparently, that’s not the kind of state elected official Tom Kading is.

North Dakota citizens: stop electing censorial, ignorant legislators who want to attack the 1st Amendment.

Filed Under: , , , , , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “North Dakota's New Anti-230 Bill Would Let Nazis Sue You For Reporting Their Content To Twitter”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
58 Comments
ECA (profile) says:

Need to ask.

Does this person understand that the ISP, and the internet services are NOT the same?
This really sounds more like someone trying to fight a EULA/tos/other.
It would be cool if this Stuff were being aimed at the ISP’s and Cellphone corps. But nothing is aimed at much of anything.
Would be nice if it was aimed at Something LIKE our politicians or most other gov. agencies.
But its like a Shot gun loaded with black powder and BB’s. its going to go Everywhere.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That One Guy (profile) says:

'I hope you're just stupid, the alternatives are worse.'

When the best case scenario that I can think of to explain his response to being called to explain his own bill is that he proposed a bill that he had quite literally never read that someone had handed him, something has gone horribly wrong.

230 doesn’t enable moderation(not censorship), the first amendment does, all 230 does it make it so that sites can safely moderate without having to risk insanely costly lawsuits by allowing them to get any such lawsuit tossed out quickly. As such as a TD article a while back noted, if your objection is that sites are moderating ‘wrong’ you have a problem with the first amendment, not 230.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Computer literacy

The next best thing is for elected officials to hire tech advisors, the way we’d hope they’d hire advisors for any other situation that requires an expert (renewable power, India-Pakistani relations, climate change mitigation). However when it comes to computer and communications technology, our federal officials seem to pride themselves on their ignorance.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
virusdetected (profile) says:

"Even though I don’t understand this problem, or whether there is a problem, I was elected to solve it…"

I continue to be disgusted by the ignorance continually demonstrated by those we elect to positions where they can directly influence the instantiation of new laws and regulations. I suspect that the ranks of elected officials would be severely reduced if each one had to pass the same citizenship exam as an immigrant wishing to become a U.S. citizen.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Bloof (profile) says:

Re: Re:

They saw what killing the fairness doctrine did to talk radio and television news and their goal is to do that to the internet, getting rid of all content moderation will enable far right voices to yell over everyone unchallenged and flood every outlet which allows user interaction with hatespeech.

They don’t like the fact that people don’t want what they’re selling and won’t use platforms where they can say whatever they like with no repercussions, so their solution is to claim victimhood and leave people with no choice.

Jono793 (profile) says:

Re: Re: You say that

getting rid of all content moderation will enable far right voices to yell over everyone unchallenged and flood every outlet which allows user interaction with hatespeech.

We’ll see if their drivel can keep it’s head above water, once every social media site gets deluged with free Ray-Bans, premium blue pills, and requests for money by Nigerian princes!

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"Or is it a case that they see nothing wrong with politics that would make living under Sharia law look like Heaven?"

A lot of politicians see nothing wrong with Sharia law, apart from the the Muslim bit. They’d jump at the chance at theocracy if their religion is the one calling the shots.

Jojo (profile) says:

This is just utter nonsense

Why are lawmakers trying legislate section 230 at the state level? Trying to reform section 230 at the national level at least makes sense. It’s a National nonissue, but if you want to reform the literal bedrock of the internet (PS you shouldn’t), it’s something that has to be handled by the U.S. Congress.

And for that matter, how do you even regulate content moderation at the state or local level? How does that even work? It’s not exactly like regulating routes for their speed limits or regulating broadband.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: This is just utter nonsense

Because they realized long ago that the truth doesn’t matter if you get more votes pandering to scmucks than you lose from people who can tell you are wasting everyone’s money and court time by trying to pass something blatantly unconstitutional. Look at the vast stack of struck down attempts from ignoring Roe v. Wade.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Section 230

Facebook etc. are not part of the government, and so cannot limit your constitutional rights. Enabling every nazi, bigot, racist, and misogynist to spout their bile wherever they want is an even crueller, as it means that such groups cannot build a site that cannot be invaded. At least the extreme right has Parler, 8kun etc.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
This comment has been deemed funny by the community.
That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Section 230

Tell me about it, I keep telling the local grocery store that they’re trampling all over my rights when they tell me to get out just because I’m swearing at the cashiers and slinging racial slurs left and right. /s

You have no constitutional rights to use someone else’s platform/property to speak from, and your ‘free speech’ is not in any way ‘abridged’ by someone telling you to get out of their platform/store/home because ‘free speech’ has never been short for ‘consequence-free speech’, which means the only people trying to restrict constitutional rights are people like you, those trying to force your speech where it’s not wanted.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Section 230

Let me come over to your house and start yelling racial slurs and generally acting like a huge asshole, shitting on your front porch, and convincing all my followers to do the same. Let’s see how quickly you will "censor" me off your property.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Section 230

"…Let me come over to your house and start yelling racial slurs and generally acting like a huge asshole…"

Considering Shel10’s usual commentary that would probably just have him hand you an application form and a white hood.

"…which means the only people trying to restrict constitutional rights are people like you, those trying to force your speech where it’s not wanted."

And the irony of it is the people whining about "cancel vulture" today are the same ones who twenty years ago clung to the right to not hire gays, black people or jews with a white-knuckled grip, insisting that they shouldn’t have to justify which people they’d let on to their property. Now that society as a whole has progressed they’re getting all upset at being treated the same way they insisted on treating others for all this time.

The only notable difference being that the victims of the first round of "cancel culture" had no say in being born brown or gay, and rarely upset people by their actions.
The alt-righters currently being kicked out all over, on the contrary, have the choice of…not being horrible assholes no sane person wants to have to deal with.

The unpleasant racist fuckwit simply isn’t welcome among the trappings of civilization any longer. And should expect no sympathy for the consequences of their choices.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

moderation is the cruelest form of abridging freedom of speech and limits our constitutional rights

I assume you must be fine with letting people in your home yell all manner of obscenities, vulgarities, and possibly factual statements about the sexual prowess of your mother.

…you’re not? Well, too bad: Telling them to get the fuck out is moderation, and as you said, moderation is the cruelest form of abridging freedom of speech and limits our constitutional rights.

I’ll keep repeating this until ignorant people like you get the point: The First Amendment protects your rights to speak freely and associate with whomever you want. It doesn’t give you the right to make others listen. It doesn’t give you the right to make others give you access to an audience. And it doesn’t give you the right to make a personal soapbox out of private property you don’t own. Nobody is entitled to a platform or an audience at the expense of someone else.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

"I’ll keep repeating this until ignorant people like you get the point…"

Shel10 and Restless94110 already know the point. They know damn well they’re pushing a debunked argument rooted in false equivalence, moved goalposts and straw men.

But they’ll keep repeating that pretzel-twisted grimdark fairytale of their own making in the hopes that some of it will stick because they know damn well that the very second they try to argue using their actual opinion they’ll have lost the audience.

Because no one want to hear their story about how the Kenyan Muslim and his overlords in the global jewish conspiracy traffic and eat babies out of the satanic temple housed in that pizza parlor. Hell, most people cut them off at "But *Obama!".

And that is what kills these fuckwits. They are just so damn butthurt they don’t get to go online and talk about Black Man Bad without some liberal puke showing them the door.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Bloof (profile) says:

Re: Section 230

You don’t have the constitutional right to enter someone else’s private property and start yelling abuse at the other people there without being asked to leave. The government can’t take away your right to free speech, social media platforms are not the government, and there is nothing in the constitution that requires them or any other private business to grant you the right to ignore any rules they may set so you can speak before the largest available audience.

The rules aren’t applied equally, we all know that, the people screeching and creating laws to combat what they consider ‘unfairness’ are those who the companies have bent over to appease, right wing content gets special treatment on Facebook, and it took a violent insurrection for twitter to start banning the people behind it. That isn’t enough for them, they want complete freedom from any of the consequences of their actions.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Section 230

"Actually, moderation is the cruelest form of abridging freedom of speech and limits our constitutional rights."

….if enacted by government agents. Why do you guys always miss that part out? Is it because your idiotic ideas don’t work if you accept the full reality of your rights?

"Who on their staff is doing this? Are the applying their rules equally?"

Who cares? If you don’t like it, use someone else’s platform to spread your message of hatred.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Enough about Nazis, what about erection pill vendors?

Reminds me of posts O see on any remotely entrepreneurial tech websites whining about how it is unfair that Google is killing their business by stopping them from reaching theit customers – in other words spammers. If they wanted your services they would put in a call, support ticket, or email to you and it is far less likely that someone you are having an actual exchange of mail with would get spam marked.

Jono793 (profile) says:

Reminds me of Poland's proposed bill.

Which would let Polish citizens sue if their social media accounts get shut down.

An interesting take on freedom of speech to say the least. In which honest scholarship or free discussion around the holocaust should be banned. Meanwhile, Polish citizens should have their "right" to degrade and harass LGBT+ people online protected.

Good to see the land of the free following a similar logic!

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Someone's looking to repeat history

In which honest scholarship or free discussion around the holocaust should be banned. Meanwhile, Polish citizens should have their "right" to degrade and harass LGBT+ people online protected.

Charming hypocritical priorities there, you’d best be very careful talking about an atrocity in the past that victimized and harmed tons of people due to bigotry and scapegoating lest you offend the nation’s ‘pride’, but you sure as hell can take part in offending and harassing people living today.

For a country trying to distance itself from the nazis and any suggestion that polish people might have joined in with the persecution of the jews they sure do seem to share the same ideologies and mindsets.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Reminds me of Poland's proposed bill.

"In which honest scholarship or free discussion around the holocaust should be banned. Meanwhile, Polish citizens should have their "right" to degrade and harass LGBT+ people online protected."

That’s a weird combination of priorities, considering that homosexuals were targeted before Jews in the late 30s…

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: 'We would never help nazis, now one sec while we act like them.'

As arguments go it also torpedoes itself when you include both parts as it’s just a wee bit hard to buy the idea that the people in a country would never have worked with the nazi’s to persecute the jews when entire cities in that country are showing no hesitation persecuting another group now, when supposedly society has grown up a bit.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Content moderation filters

Turns out we tried that. All the net-nanny software relied on the same database.

Not only could kids not go to kid-friendly guidance pages about sex and grown up stuff, but everything LGBT+ was blocked out, even if it had nothing to do with sex. Disney got blocked out sometimes. And then Anti-LGBT+ sites got through, even though they contained the same kind of hate speech that white supremacist and Islamist terror pages did. It turns out the database had a very American Protestant Christian bias.

Even the filters on our search engines are weird. I’ve mentioned before that I can’t find an engine that gives me truly unfiltered hits, but first decides if I do or don’t want porn, and gives me all porn or no porn accordingly.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Techdirt ignores that this is entirely Big Tech's faul

They asked for it, now they’re getting it. This is not ‘victim blaming’ – it’s pure scum getting what they deserve.

Big Tech is getting a well-deserved beating, and it’s only going to get worse. It’s beautiful to see.

They brought it on themselves, and the only people who feel bad for them are anti-American, anti-White plutocrat apologists like Masnick and his crew of fellow Thought Policewomyn.

Big Tech decided to declare information warfare on anyone to the right of Lenin. They could’ve stuck with a policy of supporting free speech, but anyone not openly supporting the murder of heterosexual White people is now considered a "nazi white supremacizerist" guilty of thoughtcrime.

So, Big Tech is now getting smashed by patriotic lawmakers. All (actual, non-paper) Americans support this. Sides have been chosen, and it’s clear Techdirt commenters have cast their lot with the anti-Americans.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Any White person who doesn’t hate himself, his children, or his ancestors is a "white supremacist nazi".

Pride in the racial identity known as “White” is bullshit. Whitness isn’t an ethnic identity because White people are descended from largely European populations. Pride in an ethnic heritage such as German or Italian or British or Irish is fine. Being proud of being White is pride in a social construct designed to shove Black people into the dirt.

And I know the exact argument you’ll want to make in response: “BuT wHaT aBoUt BlAcK pRiDe AnD bLaCk PoWeR aNd BlAcK lIvEs MaTtEr?!” Those terms came about because, for the descendants of enslaved Black people, Black is a cultural identity. When the colonizers brought Black people to what would become the United States, they stripped those people of their cultural heritage. Songs, stories, traditions, religions — all erased by the culture of those colonizers. The descendants of slaves can’t generally trace their ethnic heritage in the same way White people can. That’s why Black is a cultural identity in the U.S. — because the ancestors of Black Americans who came here in chains had no choice but to be Black.

I’m White. I have no guilt over this fact. But I would feel guilt over failing to be sufficiently anti-racist. God knows, I’ve probably said a buuuuuuuuunch of dumb bullshit over the years that might be considered racist. (I’ve even used the n-word here on Techdirt, albeit only in a discussion about the usage of that word. Doesn’t make it any better or less regretful.) But I’m trying hard to be anti-racist because the burden of stopping White supremacy and the racism that underlies it doesn’t lie upon people of color — it lies upon White people.

Nobody here, least of all me, is asking you to hate yourself or anyone else for being White. But your anger at being asked to give up whatever sociopolitical privileges you may have as a White person for the sake of racial justice is your problem. Only you can solve it.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Techdirt ignores that this is entirely Big Tech's fa

"Any White person who doesn’t hate himself, his children, or his ancestors is a "white supremacist nazi"."

Oh, that’s not on behalf of you being white. It’s because you have demonstrated yourself to be a white supremacist nazi in your actual writing.

Also that you seem to be a hopeless fuckwit unable to reconcile factual reality and history with the narrative you have where somehow "being american" is inextricably tied to "being a right-wing extremist white man".

When your arguments bluntly imply that being a woman, naturalized immigrant, gay, left-wing, centrist or generally non-white is bad and "un-american" that only leaves one logical conclusion where you’re coming from. You couldn’t have been clearer about your affiliations if you’d entered this thread singing Die Fahne Hoch and waving a swastika banner.

That and your laughable ignorance. No one talking about "ze evil plutocrats" is right-wing in any sense other than when it comes to the fascist aspect. It’s just hysterically funny that you people from the "alt-right" still don’t realize that you’ve been spouting marxist hogwash all this time – while ranting on the capitalist "leftists" who still believe in private property.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Techdirt ignores that this is entirely Big Tech's faul

"…and the only people who feel bad for them are anti-American, anti-White plutocrat apologists…"

Says the marxist white supremacist who feels that property ownership shouldn’t be a thing, demonstrating in one sentence how to piss all over the dreams of the founding fathers in as many ways as possible. Wonder if old Baghdad Bob here was the guy who decided to shit on the floor of the rotunda in the capitol assault.

"…but anyone not openly supporting the murder of heterosexual White people is now considered a "nazi white supremacizerist" guilty of thoughtcrime."

"I’m not a nazi!" Says the nazi, bringing a bunch of false premises and straw men to prop up his bile and venom.

"All (actual, non-paper) Americans…"

Because naturalized brown people aren’t "american". Uh-huh. As if we even needed more tells to realize where exactly you came from with this. You stormfront morons just can’t keep yourselves from dropping those key words into any debate. It’s not even a dog whistle any longer as much as a fog siren.
I’m afraid "american" simply isn’t restricted to clueless and uneducated losers who cling to their white skin as their one and only saving grace because they think it alone turns unschooled, inbred trailer trash into the Master Race.

"So, Big Tech is now getting smashed by patriotic lawmakers."

It’s not. In the end, Big Tech wins this one the same as every other industry of new technology has solidly rendered all political attempts to reign them in irrelevant sooner or later.

What really makes me laugh is that you benighted morons actually think this somehow ends with you being given more of a voice than you have when the hard truth is that you people are going to be the very first to be denied a voice at all if you get things your way.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...