In this news, we discuss the ‘Who the hell elected you?’ U.S. Senate tech hearing becomes election showdown.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A US Senate hearing to reform an internet law and hold tech companies accountable for how they moderate content quickly turned into a political brawl, as lawmakers not only sued companies, but also attacked each other.
Lawmakers Divided On How To Keep Big Tech responsible under Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act – which protects businesses from liability for user-posted content, but also allows businesses to shape political discourse.
The general managers of Twitter Inc, Facebook Alphabet Inc Inc. and Google have called the law crucial to free expression on the Internet. They said Section 230 gives them the tools to strike a balance between preserving free speech and moderation of content, even though they seemed open to suggestions, the law needs moderate changes.
The three CEOs also agreed that companies should be held accountable if the platforms act as a publisher, but denied being the arbiter of political speech – a claim that angered some Republicans.
Senator Ted Cruz took to Twitter after Jack Dorsey after CEO said Twitter has no influence on the elections.
“Who the hell elected you and gave you responsibility for what the media is allowed to report and what the American people are allowed to hear,” said Cruz, referring to the platform’s decision to block the articles. from the New York Post on Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden’s son. Ahead of the hearing, the senator posted a photo on Twitter titled “Free Speech Showdown Cruz vs. Dorsey” which showed him and Twitter Dorsey pitted against each other.
Democratic Senator Brian Schatz said he had no questions, calling the hearing “nonsense.” “It’s intimidation and it’s for electoral purposes,” he said.
Other Democrats, including Tammy Baldwin, Ed Markey and Amy Klobuchar, also said the hearing was arranged to help President Donald Trump’s re-election efforts.
Trump, who alleges stifling conservative corporate voices, and Republican lawmakers sent out a wave of tweets as the hearing continued. “Repeal section 230!” Trump tweeted. Separately, Senator Josh Hawley took a hit on Twitter’s Dorsey. “This level of idiocy confirms the widespread impression that Jack’s main source of food is grass.
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Twitter Brandon Borrman, global vice president of communications, said, “There is nothing in the (Hawley) tweet that deserves a response.”
TwitterDorsey warned the committee that eroding Section 230’s foundation could significantly affect the way people communicate online. Pichai said Google operates without political bias and to do otherwise would be against its business interests.
The committee was unable to establish contact with Facebook’s Zuckerberg and declared a short break. He appeared shortly after and said, “I was having trouble signing in.”
Zuckerberg said he supported the change in the law, but also warned that tech platforms would be likely to censor more to avoid legal risks if Section 230 was repealed. Biden has expressed support for the repeal of the law.
MORE “FREE PASS”
Republican Senator Roger Wicker, who chairs the committee, said it was important to protect companies from liability without giving them the ability to censor content they don’t like.
“The time has come to end this free pass,” he said.
Wicker also criticized Twitter’s decision to block New York Post articles about Biden’s son and Facebook to limit their reach.
He and other senators such as Cory Gardner sued Twitter for not learning about tweets from world leaders that allegedly spread disinformation, but for aggressively criticizing Republican President Donald Trump’s tweets.
US lawmakers are not the only ones pushing for reform. The Executive Commission of the European Union is drafting a new digital services law which, in addition to tackling market abuse by dominant platforms, would also address liability for harmful or illegal content. Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager is due to unveil her proposals on December 2.
Reporting by Nandita Bose and David Shepardson in Washington; Additional reporting by Diane Bartz in Washington and Douglas Busvine in Frankfurt; edited by Kirsten Donovan and Lisa Shumaker
Original © Thomson Reuters Corporation