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Esther Schindler writes: A 55-page proposal to make the FCC rewrite a law through administrative rulemaking would threaten small social sites and generate vast amounts of new business for trial lawyers. Expect some of the people who denounced net-neutrality regulations to cheer it on. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) would have the FCC rewrite Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. “Instead of protecting social platforms when they moderate users’ posts — what the law actually says — here the FCC would transmogrify that 1996 statute to hold them liable for such offenses as the Twitter trending-topics lists that Trump called Monday ‘Really ridiculous, illegal, and, of course, very unfair!,’ reports Forbes.
After Twitter began fact-checking Trump’s tweets in late May, Trump responded with an executive order calling for a rewrite of CDA 230’s core provisions. They offer immunity from civil (not criminal) liability to providers and users of an “interactive computer service” — as in, any that hosts your posts — for “any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.” Translation: an online service can decide posts supporting Trump are against its rules, and you won’t be able to sue over that.
“Instead of forcing online services to take a hands-off attitude, CDA 230 encourages them to moderate content,” reports Forbes. “The NTIA proposes to limit their immunity to moderating pornographic, violent or harassing content. All other curation would be subject to a checklist of such measures as documentation of moderation rules and ‘timely notice’ to users found violating them. A site that ‘vouches for, editorializes, recommends, or promotes’ user posts — see, for instance, Twitter trending topics — would also become liability for them.”
The most difficult thing in the world is to know how to do a thing and to
watch someone else doing it wrong, without commenting.
— T.H. White
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