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Tech legal shield included in USMCA despite late Pelosi push
Legal protections for technology companies are still in the free-trade deal between the United States, Mexico and Canada that was endorsed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calf.) on Tuesday despite her efforts to remove them.
"I had one disappointment... 230, but I was too late coming in on it," Pelosi said Tuesday during a press conference announcing the deal between House Democrats and the White House on the trade deal.
Pelosi announced last Thursday that she would try to remove the language from Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). This language gives platforms legal immunity for content posted by third-party users while also giving them legal cover to take good-faith efforts to moderate their platforms.
"I lost - they had 230 in the agreement, there are some members that wanted that... it's a real gift to big tech," Pelosi said Tuesday. "But I had said to the trade representative that we're not adding any more issues to the discussion."
Pelosi's last minute decision to press on that issue came after lawmakers from both sides of the aisle for months raised concerns that including the legal protections could damage domestic efforts to amend the Section 230 law, which has come under increased scrutiny as Silicon Valley has fallen out of favor with Washington.
The chair and ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Reps. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Greg Walden (R-Ore.), sent a letter to U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer in October urging that language from Section 230 to be stripped from the deal.
Pelosi said Tuesday that she had received that letter "after I made the pledge of not moving any goalposts."
The inclusion of the protections is a major win for tech interest groups, many of which released laudatory statements Tuesday.
"In its protections on the internet and digital economy - such as forced data localization prohibitions, balanced copyright provisions and intermediary liability protections - the new NAFTA gives us a key opportunity to cement our nation's leadership as the best place in the world to develop talent and build companies," said Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, a trade association which represents major tech companies including Amazon, Google and Facebook.
"This landmark agreement contains the strongest digital and intellectual property chapters found in any free-trade agreement to-date, which will foster innovation for American companies across industries and will help ensure North America's leadership for future technology R&D and manufacturing," Cinnamon Rogers, an executive at the tech trade group the Computing Technology Industry Association, said.