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Commentary: Should the government use Section 230 to force tech giants into paying for the news?

"Commentary: Should the government use Section 230 to force the tech giants into paying for the news?" 9 September 2020

... Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 is the bedrock law that allowed for the evolution of the digital world we know today... It says that, when it comes to legal liability, websites should be treated more like newsstands than like publishers....

Barrett argues for a three-step approach:

  1. Keep Section 230...
  2. Improve Section 230...
  3. Create a Digital Regulatory Agency...

... So the threat of opening up massive legal liability should be used as “leverage to persuade platforms to accept a range of new responsibilities related to policing content” — to turn it into “a quid pro quo benefit.”

I like the idea of the tech giants giving money to journalism as much as anyone. And I have no particular objection to items 1 and 3 on the paper’s to-do list. But I have to say No. 2 — making liability protection contingent on accepting other, sometimes only tangentially related policy proposals — bugs me. A few reasons:

Any of these ideas could become law without getting Section 230 involved... Section 230 protects every website, not just Facebook and other giants... Incentivizing regulation-via-lawsuit is a bad way to encourage good behavior.

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