Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley has introduced a new bill into the legislation that would allow consumers to sue big tech companies that display obvious political bias. With the new bill, Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act, firms like Google, Facebook, and Youtube would be held legally liable for user-generated content unless they display that their content is unaffected by political bias. The bill would only affect companies that have more than 30 million users in the United States, more than 300 million users worldwide, and who receive $500 million in global revenue.
According to NR in a press release, Senator Josh Hawley stated, “this legislation simply states that if the tech giants want to keep their government granted immunity, they must be transparent and accountable to their editorial processes and prove that they don’t discriminate,” Hawley said.
The new bill would remove immunity to technology companies that they have received from Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. The Communications Decency Act (CDA) was the first time that the United States Congress ventured to regulate pornographic material on the Internet. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act was added later by the House of Representatives which was introduced as the Internet Freedom and Family Empowerment Act.
If the bill is passed the Federal Trade Commission would undertake certifying tech companies. To be certified it would require a supermajority vote which would happen every two years.
Republican Senator Josh Hawley’s bill has been criticized by the Internet Association that does have members from Facebook and Google. According to CNBC, Michael Beckerman, president, and CEO of the Internet Association stated, “this bill forces platforms to make an impossible choice, either host reprehensible, but First Amendment protected speech or lose legal protection.” Beckerman continued,“ that allow them to moderate illegal content like human trafficking and violent extremism,” Beckerman said.
Virginia Democratic Senator Mark Warner has also suggested that Section 230 should be reviewed to address the problem with deepfakes. Deepfakes has become a growing concern with advancements in artificial intelligence. Deepfakes is a technology that is being used by creating convincing fake audio and videos that make it look like someone said something they never did, which could be used malicious purposes. This technology has been used on celebrities and on politicians and could mislead the public. Deepfakes could cause potential dangers worldwide and needs to be addressed.
Senator Josh Hawley is currently serving as a junior United States Senator and has been involved in many issues. Prior to his seat in the Senate, he was 42nd Missouri Attorney General. In February 2018, Hawley joined other Republicans in a lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act also referred to as Obamacare. In April 2018, he also had his office issue a subpoena to Facebook in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica Data Scandal. Then in August 2018, Hawley announced that he would launch an investigation of abuse by the Catholic clergy in Missouri and promised that he would report potential abuse to the authorities.
Hawley has also been involved with the State of Missouri, filing lawsuits against three major drug companies. The there companies are Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Endo Health Solutions, and Purdue Pharma for not disclosing the dangers of prescription painkillers and for and their involvement of fueling the opioid epidemic that has plagued the United States of America. He has also pushed for Rape kit audits for Missouri. In Missouri, many rape kits are on the backlog have sat in storage without ever being tested, leaving many victims without justice and leaving others at risk. Hawley is married and has two children.