Graham introduces bill to repeal tech liability shield targeted by Trump

Graham introduces bill to repeal tech liability shield targeted by Trump
© Bonnie Cash

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks This Thanksgiving, skip the political food fights and talk UFOs instead Biden move to tap oil reserves draws GOP pushback MORE (R-S.C.) introduced legislation Tuesday that would repeal a key tech liability shield by 2023 as debate over the protection has put a top defense bill in jeopardy. 

Graham’s bill would implement a sunset for Section 230, the 1996 law that grants legal protects to tech platforms for third party content posted on their sites. The law has come under fire from lawmakers of both parties, and President TrumpDonald TrumpMedia giants side with Bannon on request to release Jan. 6 documents Cheney warns of consequences for Trump in dealings with Jan. 6 committee Jan. 6 panel recommends contempt charges for Trump DOJ official MORE has said he will veto the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the annual defense policy bill, because it does not include a Section 230 repeal.

Trump has increasingly railed against the law as social media platforms flag his false posts claiming election fraud cost him a second White House term, and Republicans have long said the protections allow tech platforms to discriminate against conservative users, though they have failed to back their claims up with evidence. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have also said repealing the law could serve as a check on increasingly powerful companies such as Facebook. 

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“The time has come for these largely unregulated Big Tech giants to either be broken up, regulated, or subject to litigation for their actions,” Graham said in a statement. “It’s time we put the Section 230 protections these companies enjoy on the clock.” 

“These companies have an enormous impact on the day-to-day lives of the American people and enjoy protections other industries do not have,” he added. “Both Democrats and Republicans agree: the time has come for Section 230 to be reformed or eliminated.”

Graham said he hopes Congress will be able to address Section 230 before 2023 but that his legislation would set a date after which the law would be repealed should lawmakers be unable to find an alternative solution.

“My legislation will repeal Section 230 on January 1, 2023, unless Congress acts sooner. Congress will have two years to find an acceptable alternative or allow the legal liability protections to go away,” said Graham. “I’m hopeful that there will be bipartisan support for this approach.”

The bipartisan chorus of voices against the tech protection has grown in recent weeks, but lawmakers in both chambers and both parties have said repealing the law should be separate from the NDAA and that including it in a defense bill would be inappropriate.

Both chambers of Congress passed the NDAA with veto-proof majorities last week, though it is unclear how many Republicans would buck Trump if he actually follows through on his veto threat.