Trump says he’ll veto defense bill unless Section 230, shielding big tech from liability, is terminated
President Trump has thrown down the gauntlet over Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which critics say unfairly shields social media platforms from liability over items posted on their platforms. It also allegedly protects censorship by big tech. The president tweeted that he will veto the $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act unless Congress repeals the law.
Many believe that social media behemoths such as Twitter and Facebook should no longer be protected as a neutral platform when they operate more like a publisher… deciding what content is permissible on their networks. Individuals can and have been banned for opinions stated on social media and many times no reason is ever given for removing someone from one of these platforms. Most instances appear politically biased in nature.
The cries against censorship by big tech companies seemed to reach a crescendo during the Hunter Biden scandal in the weeks prior to the presidential election.
The New York Post broke a massive story concerning obtained emails from Hunter Biden that linked his father, presumptive President-elect Joe Biden, to his shady Ukraine business dealings.
Republican Sens. Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, and Josh Hawley all called on the heads of Twitter and Facebook at the time to testify. They were grilled incessantly but managed to not really say, admit, or explain any of their behavior.
“This is election interference and we’re 19 days out from an election,” Cruz (R-TX) said. “It has no precedent in the history of democracy. The Senate Judiciary Committee wants to know what the hell is going on.”
President Trump is refusing to concede the 2020 presidential election and his legal team is investigating allegations of widespread voter fraud. He has locked horns repeatedly with these companies, despite attracting 88 million followers on his Twitter account.
“Section 230, which is a liability shielding gift from the U.S. to “Big Tech” (the only companies in America that have it—corporate welfare!), is a serious threat to our National Security & Election Integrity. Our Country can never be safe & secure if we allow it to stand,” Trump tweeted. “Therefore, if the very dangerous & unfair Section 230 is not completely terminated as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), I will be forced to unequivocally VETO the Bill when sent to the very beautiful Resolute desk. Take back America NOW. Thank you!”
One senior House staffer called it “a total non-starter” for Democrats. “It’s a f*cking joke,” said the staffer, who spoke anonymously with Politico to discuss private negotiations. “This is a complex debate that has no business as an eleventh-hour airdrop.”
…..Therefore, if the very dangerous & unfair Section 230 is not completely terminated as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), I will be forced to unequivocally VETO the Bill when sent to the very beautiful Resolute desk. Take back America NOW. Thank you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 2, 2020
The Internet Association, which includes Facebook, Amazon.com Inc, Alphabet Inc’s Google, and Twitter, blasted Trump.
“Repealing Section 230 is itself a threat to national security. The law empowers online platforms to remove harmful and dangerous content, including terrorist content and misinformation,” the group said.
The Department of Justice sent a letter to Congress in October that advocated for changes to the 25-year-old law that essentially protects these companies from being sued by content posted on their sites. It was addressed to several congressional leaders and stated: “Today’s large online platforms hold tremendous power over the information and views available to the American people. It is therefore critical that they be honest and transparent with users about how they use that power.”
Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey, the CEOs of Facebook and Twitter, addressed concerns about the law in front of the Senate Commerce Committee in October.
“Section 230 is the most important law protecting internet speech. In removing Section 230, we will remove speech from the Internet,” Dorsey said during his testimony.
Zuckerberg suggested that Congress “updates the law to make sure it is working as intended.”
“One important place to start would be making content moderation systems more transparent,” he stated. “Another would be to separate good actors from bad actors by making sure that companies can’t hide behind section 230 to avoid responsibility for intentionally facilitating illegal activity on their platforms. We are open to working with Congress on these ideas and more,” Zuckerberg said.