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World

US Senators propose limiting liability shield for social media platforms

  • Called the SAFE TECH Act, the bill would mark the latest effort to make social media companies like Alphabet Inc's Google, Twitter Inc and Facebook Inc more accountable for "enabling cyber-stalking.
  • The bill would make it clear that Section 230, which was enacted in 1996 as part of a law called the Communications Decency Act,
Published February 5, 2021

WASHINGTON: Three Democratic US senators introduced a bill that would limit Section 230, a law that shields online companies from liability over content posted by users, and make the companies more accountable when posts result in harm.

Called the SAFE TECH Act, the bill would mark the latest effort to make social media companies like Alphabet Inc's Google, Twitter Inc and Facebook Inc more accountable for "enabling cyber-stalking, targeted harassment, and discrimination on their platforms," Senators Mark Warner, Mazie Hirono and Amy Klobuchar said in a statement.

In the wake of the Jan. 6 storming of the US Capitol in Washington, lawmakers have been studying ways to hold Big Tech more accountable for the role they played in the spread of disinformation before the riot and about policing content on their platforms.

The bill would make it clear that Section 230, which was enacted in 1996 as part of a law called the Communications Decency Act, does not apply to ads or other paid content, does not impair the enforcement of civil rights laws, and does not bar wrongful-death actions.

"We need to be asking more from big tech companies, not less," Senator Klobuchar said.

"Holding these platforms accountable for ads and content that can lead to real-world harm is critical, and this legislation will do just that," she said.

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