A group of 75 activist groups and nonprofits have urged against sweeping changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, warning that it could silence marginalized communities while making online moderation harder. “Section 230 is a foundational law for free expression and human rights when it comes to digital speech,” the letter says.
Sen Ron Wyden (D-OR) says President Donald Trump’s recent handling of Federal Communications Commission nominations is a “disaster.” The Trump administration withdrew the nomination of FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, shortly after O’Rielly criticized an executive order demanding that the agency unilaterally revise Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Sen Wyden, one of the coauthors of Section 230, said the move called the agency’s independence into question.
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which says apps and websites aren’t legally liable for third-party content, has inspired a lot of overheated rhetoric in Congress. Republicans like Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) have successfully framed the rule as a “gift to Big Tech” that enables social media censorship. While Democrats have very different critiques, some have embraced a similar fire-and-brimstone tone with the bipartisan EARN IT Act.
President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign is reportedly fighting cellphone carriers over the right to send Americans unsolicited texts. The campaign’s lawyers are in active talks with phone companies after a third-party screening tool blocked President Trump texts in early July. The campaign alleges that screening the texts amounts to suppressing political speech, while carriers fear allowing them will result in fines for violating anti-spam rules.
Building a consensus to change Section 230 will be harder than it looks. The law’s critics have vastly different and sometimes incompatible ideas about how the law should work. Republican and Democratic policymakers alike have called for sites to bear more legal liability if users post illegal content.
The Senate Judiciary Committee met to discuss tech companies unfairly favoring their own products. And Sen Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) announced the "Anticompetitive Exclusionary Conduct Prevention Act" to limit “exclusionary conduct” where a big company locks out smaller competitors, among other changes to antitrust law. It increases the burden of proof on monopolists to prove they’re not suppressing competition, and it discourages courts from granting immunity from antitrust enforcement.
AT&T and Sprint have settled a lawsuit over AT&T’s “5G Evolution” branding, which Sprint claimed was fooling customers into believing its 4G LTE network was a full-fledged 5G network. “We have amicably settled this matter,” an AT&T spokesperson said. Apparently, AT&T will keep using “5G E” in its marketing material. Earlier in 2019, AT&T started displaying a “5G E” logo on certain upgraded parts of its LTE network.
The man who edited Wikipedia with several senators’ private phone numbers and addresses has pleaded guilty to computer fraud and other offenses. Jackson Cosko, a former employee of Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH), was arrested in 2018 on suspicion of doxxing five members of Congress. He’s now admitted to breaking into Sen Hassan’s office after being fired, stealing data that included personal contact information, then posting that information online during Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing.
Electronic Frontier Foundation, 70 other groups want Facebook to offer users ‘due process’ for takedowns
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, Human Rights Watch, and over 70 other groups have asked Facebook to adopt a clearer “due process” system for content takedowns. An open letter to Mark Zuckerberg urges him to enact the Santa Clara Principles, a series of moderation guidelines that academics and nonprofits put forward earlier in 2018. “Civil society groups around the globe have criticized the way that Facebook’s Community Standards exhibit bias and are unevenly applied across different languages and cultural contexts,” the letter says.
One of President Trump's lawyers asked the Supreme Court to hear a case that could weaken web platforms' legal protections
Charles Harder, part of President Donald Trump’s legal team, is pushing the Supreme Court to hear a lawsuit that could weaken legal protections for web platforms. Harder’s firm announced that it had filed a petition in Hassell v. Bird, a defamation case that California’s Supreme Court decided in July. The court ruled that recommendations site Yelp couldn’t be forced to remove a defamatory review from its site, based on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act — a legal shield that’s been criticized by Republican politicians in recent months.