Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has introduced a bill that would sunset social media networks' Sec. 230 immunity from civil liability for third party content moderation.
The sunset would not come until Jan. 1, 2023, so the bill is more like a spur to some kind of reform to the section between now and then.
“The time has come for these largely unregulated Big Tech giants to either be broken up, regulated, or subject to litigation for their actions,” said Graham in introducing the legislation. “It’s time we put the Section 230 protections these companies enjoy on the clock.”
Graham has been a big backer of President Trump, who has taken aim at what he sees as a legal shield for liberal leaning Silicon Valley companies to censor conservative speech, including his own.
Plenty of Republicans see it the same way, and even Democrats want the section reviewed or eliminated for different reasons, the latter even including President-elect Joe Biden.
But powerful social media companies argue that eliminating the immunity could blow up the social media platform model.
Graham made it clear his bill was meant to light a fire under both sides to come to a meeting of the minds.
“My legislation will repeal Section 230 on January 1, 2023, unless Congress acts sooner," he said. "Congress will have two years to find an acceptable alternative or allow the legal liability protections to go away. I’m hopeful that there will be bipartisan support for this approach.”
Currently the FCC is considering a petition, filed by the Trump Administration, to use Sec. 230 changes to regulate social media sites. FCC chairman Ajit Pai Tuesday (Dec. 15) declined to say whether or not he would try to act on that petition before he exits Jan. 20.
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.