FILE PHOTO: U.S. Senator John Thune (R-SD) asks a question during an oversight hearing held by the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee to examine the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in Washington, U.S. June 24, 2020. Jonathan Newton/Pool via REUTERS
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican Senator John Thune said he will introduce legislation on Wednesday intended to reform Section 230 – a federal law that largely exempts tech platforms such as Facebook and Twitter from legal liability for the material their users post.
The bipartisan legislation, titled the Platform Accountability and Consumer Transparency Act, or PACT, aims to “provide for more accountability and transparency for large tech platforms with respect to content moderation decisions,” said Thune, the No. 2 Senate Republican. The bill is co-sponsored by Democratic Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii.
There are mounting calls to reform Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, and legal immunity for tech platforms has come under severe scrutiny.
Last month, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that seeks new regulatory oversight of tech firms’ content moderation decisions and he backed legislation to scrap or weaken Section 230 in an attempt to regulate social media platforms.
Trump’s move came after Twitter Inc tagged his unsubstantiated tweets about claims of fraud in mail-in voting with a warning prompting readers to fact-check the posts.
The Thune-Schatz bill includes two provisions put forward by the Justice Department last week to reform Section 230.
Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have called for Congress to change Section 230 in ways that could expose tech companies to more lawsuits or significantly increase their costs.
Another bipartisan bill, titled the Earn It Act and co-sponsored by the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham and Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, aims to curb the distribution of child sexual abuse material on tech platforms by threatening their Section 230 immunity. It will be taken up at a committee hearing on Thursday.
Reporting by David Shepardson and Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing by Steve Orlofsky