Lawmakers call on Trump to keep tech legal shield out of trade talks

Lawmakers call on Trump to keep tech legal shield out of trade talks
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The bipartisan leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee are asking the Trump administration not to include legal liability protections for internet companies in future trade agreements.

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneLawmakers call on Trump to keep tech legal shield out of trade talks Hillicon Valley: FTC fines Facebook B in privacy settlement | Critics pan settlement as weak | Facebook also faces FTC antitrust probe | Senate panel advances 'deepfakes' legislation | House passes anti-robocall bill House passes anti-robocall bill MORE (D-N.J.), the panel’s chairman, and his Republican counterpart Rep. Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenLawmakers call on Trump to keep tech legal shield out of trade talks House passes anti-robocall bill Lawmakers deride FTC settlement as weak on Facebook MORE (Ore.) sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerOn The Money: Economy adds 164K jobs in July | Trump signs two-year budget deal, but border showdown looms | US, EU strike deal on beef exports Chinese, US negotiators fine-tuning details of trade agreement: report The Trump economy keeps roaring ahead MORE raising concerns about U.S.-Canada-Mexico trade agreement’s language and suggesting that Congress is considering revising the liability shield, codified in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

“As you may know, the effects of Section 230 and the appropriate role of such a liability shield have become the subject of much debate in recent years,” the lawmakers wrote. “While we take no view on that debate in this letter, we find it inappropriate for the United States to export language mirroring Section 230 while such serious policy discussions are ongoing.”

The law gives websites broad legal immunity for content posted by third-party users while also giving them legal cover to take good-faith efforts to moderate their platforms for hateful, abusive or illegal content.

The protections were included in the language of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which is currently awaiting congressional approval.

In recent years, as Silicon Valley has fallen out of favor with lawmakers in Washington, members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have increasingly spoken out in favor of amending or even gutting Section 230.

For Republicans, the push is largely driven by their suspicions that conservatives are being censored by social media companies. Meanwhile, Democrats have lashed out at the major platforms for not doing enough to combat hate speech and other abusive content.

It’s still unclear whether the two parties will join together to revise the law or if there’s enough support in Congress to compel the administration to remove the liability protections from the trade agreement.

Lighthizer’s office did not respond when asked for comment.

Correction: This story was updated Aug. 7 at 1:05 p.m. to clarify that lawmakers are are pushing for the changes for future trade deals