Rubio Introduces Sec 230 Legislation to Crack Down on Big …

Posted: August 28, 2021 at 12:06 pm

Washington, D.C. U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced legislation to halt Big Techs censorship of Americans, defend free speech on the internet, and level the playing field to remove unfair protections that shield massive Silicon Valley firms from accountability. The Disincentivizing Internet Service Censorship of Online Users and Restrictions on Speech and Expression (DISCOURSE) Act would hold Big Tech responsible for complying with pre-existing obligations per Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) of 1996 and clarify ambiguous terms that allow Big Tech to engage in censorship.

Specifically, the DISCOURSE Act updates the statute so that when a market-dominant firm actively promotes or censors certain material or viewpoints -- including through the manipulative use of algorithms -- it no longer receives protections. The bill also limits Section 230 immunities for large corporations that fail to live up to the statutes obligations.

Big Tech has destroyed countless Americans reputations, openly interfered in our elections by banning news stories, and baselessly censored important topics like the origins of the coronavirus, Rubio said. It is absurd that these massive companies receive special protections through Federal law, even as they tear our country apart. No more free passes -- it is time to hold Big Tech accountable for their actions.

When it was first passed in 1996, Section 230 was intended to enable internet companies to host third-party content and engage in targeted moderation of the worst content without being treated as publishers, which are generally held accountable for the content that appears in its publication. But in the 25 years since the CDAs passage, internet companies have developed from tiny start-ups that needed the protections afforded by Section 230 into some of the largest corporations on Earth.

In addition to their growth, these internet companies also changed their missions. Todays tech giants use opaque algorithms and unaccountable teams of moderators to manipulate online discourse to their worldview. The result is a highly distorted public square in which Americans are censored on a daily basis.

Industry and policy experts have lauded Rubios work and the DISCOURSE Act:

"Senator Rubio deserves a lot of credit for coming up with this innovative approach to reforming Section 230. The DISCOURSE Act holds Big Tech companies accountable not only for their censorship and viewpoint discrimination, but also for their algorithmic amplification of content. This makes perfect sense. If a Big Tech company arbitrarily picks winners and losers when it comes to speech, it is itself speaking, so why should it enjoy a special immunity from civil liability for that speech? We appreciate Senator Rubio's commitment to fighting Big Tech censorship, and we hope this legislation starts an important conversation in the months ahead." - Jon Schweppe, director of policy and government affairs, American Principles Project

"We are thankful for the hard work of Senator Marco Rubio and his staff in addressing the growing concerns of NRB Members about the power of Big Tech to censor and stifle free speech. This legislation is a great first step in ensuring digital platforms are open for free speech and the gospel. We encourage the Senate to take a very serious look at this important legislation." - Troy Miller, CEO of NRB

Oracle appreciates Sen. Rubios efforts to introduce the DISCOURSE Act, which will preserve Section 230 immunities for those upstart innovators who need it but limit the protections for dominant tech platforms, who do not.

Senator Marco Rubios proposed legislation to reform Section 230 is an important step in the right direction. The Internet Accountability Project (IAP) applauds his efforts, and we hope other Republican senators will join him.

A section-by-section overview of the bill is available here, and a one-pager is here.

Key provisions of the DISCOURSE Act are also listed below.

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Rubio Introduces Sec 230 Legislation to Crack Down on Big ...

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