[UPDATE] Elizabeth Warren Is NOT Cosponsoring A Bill To Repeal 230

from the what-are-you-doing-liz? dept

Big Update: It turns out that this was a clerical error on the part of a Senate staffer, and that Elizabeth Warren is not co-sponsoring this bill from Lindsey Graham to repeal Section 230. The Congress.gov site is expected to be corrected and her name removed as a co-sponsor some time soon. I am leaving the original story below for posterity, but it’s good to see that Senator Warren hasn’t gone completely over to the dark side on this.

Original story here:

So, just yesterday I wrote about how Democratic Senators had been shying away from co-sponsoring bills with Senator Josh Hawley. Throughout 2019 and 2020, even as Hawley’s populist fascist tendencies had become abundantly clear, Democrats were willing to partner with him because he was “anti-big tech.” But after January 6th of last year, suddenly Hawley was left shouting on Fox News, rather than teaming up with Democrats to sponsor bills to regulate the internet.

So… it was more than a bit of a surprise that, yesterday, Senator Elizabeth Warren’s name popped up as a co-sponsor on S.2972, a bill from Republican Senators Lindsey Graham, Josh Hawley, and Marsha Blackburn, to literally repeal Section 230.

It’s such a bizarre and nonsensical move. Even for Senators who support reforming Section 230, repealing it seems unlikely to accomplish what they think it will. And, even more to the point, Warren is apparently already aware of how removing Section 230 can cause significant harm. She was behind a previous bill in the Senate that was designed to study the impact of FOSTA on sex workers, after tons of people realized (way too late, and despite widespread warnings from multiple experts) that FOSTA would create massive consequences for the sex work industry (and related industries).

Over the last couple of years, ever since she lost the Presidential primary, Warren seems to have shifted further and further away from the thoughtful Senator “with a detailed plan to fix things” to one who has fully embraced pure, naked, populism for the sake of political gain. She’s especially leaned hard into attacking internet companies in ways that are extremely disappointing. Even if you believe that the big internet companies (and the wider internet itself) require regulation — an argument that is easily defensible — she has embraced truly extreme and unconstitutional positions that generate headlines and screams of support from people who just want to punish big companies, rather than create a better world.

This latest move — teaming up with three extremist Republican Senators — on a bizarrely stupid and dangerous plan to flat out repeal Section 230 makes absolutely no sense at all, and I don’t see how it accomplishes any of Senator Warren’s stated goals. Without Section 230, you end up helping the largest internet companies cement their position, while punishing smaller competitors and killing them with legal liability for things that they didn’t actually do.

This is an unfortunate and cynical move by a Senator who I had thought was better than that.

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Comments on “[UPDATE] Elizabeth Warren Is NOT Cosponsoring A Bill To Repeal 230”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Except 230 reform isn’t an effort against Big Tech in a practical sense despite how they see it. It will ultimately weaken the freedoms of individuals. "Big Tech" will be just fine regardless of how the laws get shaped. They can afford to adapt. But the individual doesn’t have the budget or the voice at the table to make sure their interests are represented.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

This could simply result in CalExit happening, and California becoming three countries, California, Jefferson, and the Silicon Republic

I what would be what would be the Silicon Republic, US laws would not apply.

Facebook and YouTube, for sure, would be in the Silicon Republic, and would not be subject to any laws in the remaining United States.

American laws would not apply in either an independent California, or in the Silicon Republic.

Silicon Valley companies would only have to obey Siliconian laws, if the Silicon Republic were to ever come into being.

Say what you like, but American laws would not apply in the Silicon Republic, if it existed now.

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arp2 (profile) says:

Blow it all up

Perhaps I’m giving her too much credit, but maybe she actually knows the impact, but:

1) She thinks 230 protects conservative misinformation more than liberal misinformation and so, she thinks she can win a nuclear war. and/or

2) She thinks it will lead to better legislation. "Fine, let’s repeal it. Watch what happens." It would absolutely create chaos and then there’s a better window to write "good" legislation because everyone is suffering.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Potential Plot Twists

  • These senators pitched the bill to Warren as some sort of big-tech profit squeeze and she never checked to see if they were lying.

  • A new DNC rule came in that says to be eligible for primary races you need to have record of crossing the aisle and co-sponsoring at least one GOP bill. Warren then chose this from a hat.

  • The question "Do you want to co-sponsor a bill with Josh Hawley (Y/N)" appeared on her 1980’s workstation and she though Y was short for "Yikes".

  • A magic talking cricket which only Warren can see told her to sign it if she wants to be a real politician one day.

  • Warren confused Section 230 with a Section 8 and thought she was helping Hawley forcibly retire.
This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Blake C. Stacey (profile) says:

The letter I just sent:

I am gravely concerned to see that Sen. Warren has co-sponsored a Republican bill to repeal the foundational document of Internet regulation known as Section 230. This is terrible on policy grounds: even those experts who support some type of regulatory reform agree that a total repeal of 230 would entrench monopolies and make it harder to moderate content and thus harder to fight online hate speech. Beyond that, it is terrible on optics: allying with the senator who fist-bumped the January 6th coup attempt?

The Senator is, I’m sure, aware that regulatory changes require planning and evidence-based investigation. Indeed, it was not long ago that the Senator co-introduced the SAFE SEX Workers Study Act, which would have tasked the Department of Health and Human Services with investigating the effects of SESTA/FOSTA, the previous change to Section 230.

On any subject as complex as Internet regulation, there will be times when reasonable people can differ. But this is a moment when the Senator owes the public an explanation.

I voted for the Senator in the 2020 primary because I liked the candidate who "had a plan for that". What’s the plan now?

Regards,
Blake C. Stacey

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

even those experts who support some type of regulatory reform agree that a total repeal of 230 would entrench monopolies and make it harder to moderate content

Without section 230, not moderating can also lead to costly court battles. The only people who will win from changes to section 230 are the lawyers, and perhaps that is why congress is so keen on doing something.

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Koby (profile) says:

Aligned Interests

So… it was more than a bit of a surprise that

You keep getting surprised by the low opinion that the general public has developed of Section 230, and of Big Tech. The new Republican party is coming out against the Chamber of Commerce, and believe that a repeal will end the ability of social media to moderate based upon on political beliefs. The current Democrat legislators are loving the campaign donations from California, and enjoy the idea that the entrenched tech monopolies can do to speech what the government cannot.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

the low opinion that the general public has developed of Section 230

I can all but guarantee that a simple majority of Americans don’t even know what Section 230 is. If they had the proper and correct information about what Section 230 is⁠ (something you or your anti-230 brethren would never give out), they’d likely have a positive opinion of it.

The new Republican party is coming out against the Chamber of Commerce, and believe that a repeal will end the ability of social media to moderate based upon on political beliefs.

They would be wrong⁠. Social media companies currently moderate based on a form of community standards⁠—i.e., standards they believe will net them the largest possible community. Remove 230 and they’ll moderate based on politics⁠—specifically, they’ll moderate to make sure nothing beyond milquetoast, lukewarm, overwhelmingly centrist bullshit will ever be on their servers so they can avoid any and all legal liability for any third-party speech. To wit: Without 230, Twitter would’ve banned Donald Trump long before January 2021.

The current Democrat legislators are loving the campaign donations from California, and enjoy the idea that the entrenched tech monopolies can do to speech what the government cannot.

Funny, then, that alternatives to Twitter and Facebook exist⁠—and that neither Twitter nor Facebook can stop those alternatives from existing.

Remember: 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—legally, morally, or ethically⁠—to a platform or an audience at the expense of someone else.

generateusername says:

Re: Re: Re:

Social media companies currently moderate based on a form of community standards⁠—i.e., standards they believe will net them the largest possible community.

You would think that’s the case, but without more transparency into the decision making process of the companies we don’t really know for sure (of course legally mandated transparency is probably a bad idea but I’m not calling for that). One of my issues with social media platforms is that oftentimes their policies and actions don’t seem to align with user preferences at all. Other times they do, but only by coincidence. After all, we keep saying "Platforms have the right to moderate however they want", but few stop to think about what users want.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

we keep saying "Platforms have the right to moderate however they want", but few stop to think about what users want

I would wager that the vast majority of social media users want a platform that lets them speak their mind without having to face shitloads of harassment and hatred for either their speech or specific facets of their identity (e.g., their sexual orientation). The details of how that happens don’t matter as much as the broad-strokes desire to have a platform that hasn’t given in to the “Worst People” Problem.

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Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Aligned Interests

You keep getting surprised by the low opinion that the general public has developed of Section 230

The general public has no real opinion of 230, and among those that do, like you they seem to base it on blatantly false information that they believe to be true in spite of actual evidence.

believe that a repeal will end the ability of social media to moderate based upon on political beliefs.

Except that’s wrong. As we’ve told you. And as the courts have said. The 1st Amendment protects that.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Aligned Interests

You keep getting surprised by the low opinion that the general public has developed of Section 230,

More like the low opinion few loud mouthed, bigoted fascists have of it, because their message in not as acceptable to the public as they think it is.

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

Re: Aligned Interests

Koby… why are you like this?

The public is constantly put in the dark about this kind of thing. It’s not that the public have an low opinion on Section 230. It’s only because a minority of people actually know of Section 230’s existence. The beautiful simplicity of Section 230 is buried by pointless “debates” about whether toast should be buttered side up or down and yet the solution is always the same Nuclear Option. And that notion is always perpetuated by pretentious gaslighters that pretend that they know better, but don’t. People like Josh Hawley, Bluthmenthal, and you.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Aligned Interests

Even to the extent that the public might be against 230 that doesn’t do Koby much good as I’ve little doubt that the overwhelming majority of those that fall into that category do so because certain individuals and groups keep lying about 230, both what it says and what it does, as evidenced by the fact that I’ve yet to see an honest argument against the law.

If the primary reason people are against something is that it’s constantly being lied about the only thing that low opinion serves as is an indicator of people being fooled and the presence of the liars that fooled them.

That One Guy (profile) says:

'Destroy your reputation with this one simple trick!'

Teaming up with insurrectionist supporter Hawley, Lindsey Graham, and Marsha Blackburn to try to kill a law that protects the first amendment over spite and/or to play to the gullible… well that’s certainly one way to utterly destroy any positive legacy you might have had, gut your reputation and demonstrate that you need to be replaced come the next election in one move.

sumgai (profile) says:

Re: 'Destroy your reputation with this one simple trick!'

TOG, I’m surprised at you:

try to kill a law that protects the first amendment

At least I certainly wasn’t aware that the Constitution, w/amendments, needed any protection at all, let alone that such be somehow provided by a law…. Especially knowing that all laws passed by any legislative body, or ordained by the courts, must conform to that very same Constitution.

Having a rough day, or did your fingers simply go spastic on you for a moment? Don’t worry, we all get to that point as we get older (and presumably, a bit wiser). I know I’m in deep shit, finger-wise. Sometimes I just wanna quit posting here, ’cause my errors are so embarrassingly obvious…. Makes me lokk like I ca’nt psell four hsit, ya know.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: 'Destroy your reputation with this one simple trick!'

As I’ve noted in the past a right that you can’t afford to exercise is one that effectively doesn’t exist, and with the primary point of 230 being to allow platforms to make use of their first amendment rights without being sued into oblivion by shutting down first amendment based lawsuit before they get really expensive for the defendants I’d argue that when you scrape away the surface coating protecting first amendment rights is the core purpose of the law.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: 'Destroy your reputation with this one simple trick!'

Regarding the update, oof, talk about one hell of a ‘typo’…

Well, if her ‘support’ was in fact just a mistype/glitch looks like I’ll need to walk back my comment about her joining the dark side and leave all the blame for those that actually are supporting such a horrible bill.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Yes it’s worth noting. I’ve never seen it happen before. Usually when targets of Techdirt articles point out factual errors in Techdirt articles, they are met either with crickets or a gang of globalist corporatist idiots chanting "free is good" and "trolls are bad".

Worth noting, indeed. First time for everything, it appears.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Well, if you need one obvious example among hundreds and hundreds, take a look at the old Techdirt article about "StreamScale". There are so many factual errors that there is room for little else.

To begin with, StreamScale never had a "trolling operation", that’s just a lie. StreamScale had products and patents. It still develops technology and patents and leads in the industry in high performance error control systems.

Then, the statement that the StreamScale patent "almost certainly ineligible for patent protection as an abstract idea" is another lie, this has already been reviewed by the USPTO. Completely wrong, yet still published as if it’s a fact.

The article also says "no lawsuit was filed" when in fact arbitration was filed and took place in Los Angeles, CA. No one was ever "threatened", and nothing was done to "avoid" a lawsuit. These are all fabrications and outright lies.

So, let’s see you publicly withdraw your factual errors. I would appreciate that, maybe your other readers would appreciate it, too.

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Rocky says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Well, if you need one obvious example among hundreds and hundreds, take a look at the old Techdirt article about "StreamScale". There are so many factual errors that there is room for little else.

Oh, it’s you. Seems you are still befuddled, but your "anecdote" isn’t the example you think it is.

To begin with, StreamScale never had a "trolling operation", that’s just a lie.

Seems there are several organizations calling StreamScale a patent trolling operation, and considering StreamScale’s behavior it’s a fitting opinion and description.

Then, the statement that the StreamScale patent "almost certainly ineligible for patent protection as an abstract idea" is another lie, this has already been reviewed by the USPTO. Completely wrong, yet still published as if it’s a fact.

Seems you can’t distinguish between an opinion and a fact. And the USPTO has proven themselves to be quite inadequate at their assigned task. That several others have also mentioned that the "Erasure-patent" should never have been allowed due to it’s nature and the prior art only strengthens that image.

The article also says "no lawsuit was filed" when in fact arbitration was filed and took place in Los Angeles, CA. No one was ever "threatened", and nothing was done to "avoid" a lawsuit. These are all fabrications and outright lies.

You do appear to be a tad stupid, an arbitration isn’t a lawsuit. James Plank was bullied into to arbitration because the alternative was an expensive lawsuit that StreamScale was threatening him with. So, since there was an arbitration, "no lawsuit was filed" – the alternative would have been: "a lawsuit was filed", there was no arbitration. See how that works?

So, let’s see you publicly withdraw your factual errors. I would appreciate that, maybe your other readers would appreciate it, too.

It’s only factual errors if you conflate opinion with fact while trying to rewrite history. Seems you have severe problems learning that, but I guess that’s because you probably have a vested interest in StreamScale.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

More to the point, is there anyone who really considers the Washington Post a reliable resource since Bezos bought it? It strikes me as something along the lines of the Wall Street Journal – once great but after Murdoch got his fingers in it, well.. In both cases there seems to still be some value in their general reporting, but they seem to need a generous pinch of salt and their opinion pages can be safely ignored, and that colours the credibility of the rest of their content.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I actually had to look up StreamScale to see wtf Hamilton was talking about, and was pretty disappointed that Techdirt only ran ONE article. Like… he couldn’t even find something with multiple articles to rant about. At least John Smith knew to fall back on Malibu Media, Prenda Law and Strike 3 even though he was utterly, completely wrong and angry about the judge’s decisions there. Like… this makes Hamilton’s attempts to claim that Techdirt ruined Janice Duffy look like a proper legal argument.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Usually when targets of Techdirt articles point out factual errors in Techdirt articles

[Citation Needed] as the saying goes.

of globalist corporatist

Dangit, the neighbors’ dogs just started barking like mad, what could possibly have gotten into them…

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Yes, this is more familiar. Techdirt posers trying their (pitiful) best to define words in a new way so as to twist obvious fabrications in published articles with arguments like "well other people said it too" and "that word doesn’t mean what you think it means".

Congratulations. The old Techdirt reappears.

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

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

"Yes, this is more familiar. "

You making an obviously false claim and people flocking to correct your broken logic? Yeah, I guess that must feel pretty familiar by now.

"Techdirt posers trying their (pitiful) best to define words in a new way…"

As in "Sane people refusing to let you redefine old words in new ways that fit your narrative" you mean?

"…with arguments like "well other people said it too" and "that word doesn’t mean what you think it means"."

Because an outfit acting like the dictionary-definition of a patent troll and the dictionary itself must be cast into doubt at your sole assertion. I think we’ll want a bit more context and logic around why you think observable evidence and the dictionary are incorrect before taking your word for it, Baghdad Bob.

"Congratulations. The old Techdirt reappears."

The one where gormless fuckwits like you don’t get a single chance to assert blithering nonsense without someone calling that bullshit? Yeah, it never went away.

But thanks for playing.

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

Re: Re: Re:

Yes it’s worth noting. I’ve never seen it happen before.

If you argument hinges on you being uninformed of factual reality, that only means you are more than happy to make shit it up to fit your myopic view of the world. But do keep reveling in your ignorance – it makes you stick out, and not in a good way.

Anonymous Coward says:

The point is section 230 protects startups and any website that had user content forums eg it’s the shield for free speech there’s no read on to get rid of it no more than we don’t ban cars or trucks even though they are used by terrorists , yes people will the Web for fake news disinformation and weird conspiracy theory’s but that’s not a logical reason to erase section 230 which allows many new websites to grow and serve minority groups ordinary local users lbgt forums Blm forums etc
The Web constantly evokes , in a few years tik Tok grew but by bit to rival YouTube in viewing time by users
Who knows what new app will come allow in the future
A rival to twitter or reddit that needs section 230 to survive

Anonymous Coward says:

This is also good argument against ending fillbusters and procedural hold.

Otherwise, SOPA would have become law 10 years ago

Someone like, say, Wyden could put a procedural hold, and they would likely not have to 60 votes to break it, right now.

That is why Sinema and Manchin are to be commended to resisting attempts to end the fillibuster

Ending the fillibuster could be disastrus for the Internet.

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Jojo (profile) says:

Re: ????‍♂️ Where to start?

This is also good argument against ending fillbusters and procedural hold.

How? What does this have to do with this article about Section 230? Plus this argument is rendered redundant due to the article’s changed context. But even then, your argument would still be shallow under the original article.

  • Otherwise, SOPA would have become law 10 years ago*

Except the fillibuster didn’t kill SOPA, hell it didn’t even reach either floor. SOPA died in the House Judiciary the moment the Great Blackout sapped all momentum in the bill’s passage. The filibuster had nothing to do with SOPA’s downfall and is just there to enable minority rule and make it impossible for necessary and helpful legislation to occur. Also Section 230 wouldn’t be affected under SOPA, it’s the DMCA that would.

That is why Sinema and Manchin are to be commended to resisting attempts to end the fillibuster

Ah yes, commend them for exing the desperately needed Voting rights and a mega-bill designed to improve welfare and childhood poverty. Those two greedbags shouldn’t be commended for anything.

  • Ending the fillibuster could be disastrus for the Internet*

Killing the filibuster might make passage of SOPA-esque bills easier, but it also for bills that help people. It’s a double-edged sword situation. Lastly, don’t mean to be petty, it’s “disastrous;” Not “ disastrus.”

Anonymous Coward says:

I am thinking that a repeal of 230 could affect "pirate" streaming site, that carries to of Cuba’s networks.

Cuban TV is not supposed to be watchable in the United States, and I have heard of the USA jamming Cuban TV and radio signals in a way that does not affect American signals.

Then, again, this site that carries two Cuban networks is in Shanghai, China.

A web site in Shanghai is not subject to USA laws in any way, which is why the copyright people find it almost impossible to shut it down right now.

American laws do not apply in China. So even though they may be violating the Communist Control Act, by allowing people to watch some Cuban TV networks, they are out of reach of American laws, in Shanghai.

There are a couple of pirate streaming sites in China that have many US, Canadian, and British channels the copyright cartel cannot do anything about right now, becuase they are in China.

There is one site, operationg out of Shenzen, that streams a lot of American, British, and Canadian networks that are beyond the reach of the law in those countries.

As long as China allows them to operate, that is all that matters. Those sites only have to obey Chinese laws. American, Canadian, and British laws do not apply and and not enforcebale in China.

So, if someone, in Britain, uses that site to watch British TV without a TV licence, the British authorties cannot force them to hand over any user information becauase British law does not apply in China and cannot be enforced there.

For 10 USD (5 more for each device if you want to have more than one device using the service at the same time), that would be way cheaper than a TV Licence, so I would not be surprised if a lot of British sign up. 180 USD a year, compared to 217 USD (at current exchange rates), for a TV licence, would make a bargain for watching TV. And 120 a year, if only using connection at a time, would really be a bargain. When British find out they can use this service, for a lot less than a TV licence, they will get a lot more customers in Britain, compared to 217 USD a year for a TV licence.

All someone in Britain would have to do is use an offshore VPN to hide the fact they are using this service and they would never be caught

I

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"I am thinking that a repeal of 230 could affect "pirate" streaming site, that carries to of Cuba’s networks."

I am thinking that not only do you need to read section 230, but you really need to update your talking points.

"American laws do not apply in China"

They don’t apply in most places outside of America.

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