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GOP lawmaker introduces bill targeting tech liability protections

GOP lawmaker introduces bill targeting tech liability protections
© Greg Nash

Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) introduced legislation Thursday targeting a decades-old law that gives internet platforms legal liability protection from content posted by third parties.

The bill — the Stop Shielding Culpable Platforms Act — would yank those protections from companies that “knowingly peddle unlawful material” such as child pornography on their sites.

The proposal would overhaul a portion of the 1996 Communications Decency Act known as Section 230 that has drawn the ire of Republicans, including former President TrumpDonald TrumpWarren says Republican party 'eating itself and it is discovering that the meal is poisonous' More than 75 Asian, LGBTQ groups oppose anti-Asian crime bill McConnell says he's 'great admirer' of Liz Cheney but mum on her removal MORE.

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“It’s past time for Congress to roll back Section 230’s most egregious and expansive special legal protections,” Banks, head of the influential Republican Study Committee, said in a statement Thursday.

The legislation is co-sponsored by eight other Republicans.

Some experts have argued that legislation along these lines could end up harming efforts by platforms to remove illicit content like child sexual abuse material. Section 230 gives platforms liability protection for good faith efforts at content moderation, but without that protection, companies could face lawsuits anytime they try to remove images or videos, disincentivizing existing efforts.

The legal protections for tech companies were thrust into the spotlight last year when former President Trump targeted them in an executive order and pushed for their repeal in a separate defense policy bill.

That effort, which came after Twitter labeled some of Trump's posts that contained misinformation about mail-in voting, sputtered once President BidenJoe BidenBiden says Beau's assessment of first 100 days would be 'Be who you are' Biden: McCarthy's support of Cheney ouster is 'above my pay grade' Conservative group sues over prioritization of women, minorities for restaurant aid MORE took office.

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However, efforts in Congress to either reform or scrap the law persist.

Sens. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerBiden signs executive order to improve federal cybersecurity Overnight Defense: Former Pentagon chief to testify about Capitol riot Wednesday | Senate Intelligence chairman wants Biden to review US Space Command move Wyden: Funding infrastructure with gas tax hike a 'big mistake' MORE (D-Va.) and Amy KlobucharAmy Klobuchar Klobuchar offers tribute to her father, who died Wednesday The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Cheney poised to be ousted; Biden to host big meeting Senate panel deadlocks in vote on sweeping elections bill MORE (D-Minn.) introduced a bill last month which would carve out Section 230 protections to allow users who face cyberstalking, targeted harassment and discrimination to seek legal action against the platforms.

Sens. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzDemocrats face big headaches on Biden's T spending plan Democrats introduce bill to give hotels targeted relief Senate Democrats push Biden over raising refugee cap MORE (D-Hawaii) and John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneTop Democrat: FCC actions are a 'potential setback' to autonomous vehicles Biden-McConnell cold war unlikely to end at White House Top female GOP senator compares Cheney ousting to 'cancel culture' MORE (R-N.D.) reintroduced the PACT Act this week, which would require greater transparency around content moderation decisions and potentially pull Section 230 protections from platforms that fail to pull down illegal content after being notified by courts.