Loeffler’s New Section 230 Reform Bill Opens Door To More Porn

LOS ANGELES—Section 230, the 1996 law generally considered the foundation of online communications, has come under threat from across the political spectrum over the past three years. But now, Georgia Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler has introduced a new bill that, while restricting Section 230 protections for online platforms, could actually end up allowing a new explosion of porn on the internet — and spam content as well. Loeffler introduced her bill, which she has titled the “Stopping Big Tech Censorship Act,” last week in the Senate. But the first-term Senator is also a co-sponsor of a bill introduced last year by Missouri first-term Senator Josh Hawley, which would do away with Section 230 protections entirely, for “big tech firms.” Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act states, “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” That brief passage has allowed uninhibited communication on the internet for more than two decades, by freeing platforms — websites, internet service providers, social media sites and so on — from the need to strictly monitor all content posted by third parties for potential legal issues. Without Section 230, experts believe, platforms would simply opt to censor broad categories of content rather than expend the substantial resources required to check every piece of content for legality. Loeffler’s bill, according to analysis by the site TechDirt, would “amend” Section 230 to limit protections only to companies that take “reasonable steps” to prevent “unlawful” use of their platform. But what “reasonable steps” would mean is not defined by Loeffler’s bill. According to TechDirt, sites that offer end-to-end encryption — such as the popular messaging service WhatsApp — could lose protections for not taking “reasonable steps” to prevent “unlawful” messages, because the encryption prevents monitoring of individual messages. Section 230 allows platforms to moderate “objectionable” content, but Loeffler’s proposed bill would change that provision to allow sites to moderate content only if they do so in a “viewpoint neutral” way. Additionally, sites that remove content must provide an explanation of why that content was removed, to guarantee the required “neutrality.” But according to the TechDirt analysis, Loeffler’s requirements would make it nearly impossible for platforms to delete spam — or porn. Not only would it be burdensome to provide a “clear explanation” for every such decision, but proving that porn, for example, was deleted in a “viewpoint neutral” way appears impossible, according to TechDirt. The very act of deleting appears to reveal an anti-porn viewpoint. Loeffler, who is believed to be the wealthiest member of Congress, may not be around to see her bill reach a vote, however. She must run in a special election to retain her seat in November, and now trails Georgia GOP House Rep. Doug Collins narrowly in the latest polling.  Photo by U.S. Department of Agriculture / Wikimedia Commons Public Domain 

written by: Lawrence Avery

source: Loeffler’s New Section 230 Reform Bill Opens Door To More Porn | AVN