Thursday, January 30, 2020

Elizabeth Warren seems to threaten Section 230 on "spreading misinformation" issues


CNBC has a story today reporting that Elizabeth Warren wants to propose criminal penalties for spreading disinformation online, at least for tech companies.  This would appear to involved weakening Section 230.  Recently, the New York Times interviewed Joe Biden in which he seemed to suggest abolishing Section 230 (covered Jan. 20 here).


It is possible that Warren would also want to punish individual speakers for deliberate spreading of misinformation (anti-vax) but that should run into the First Amendment.

I don’t know if I’ve shared it previously, but Elliot Harmon reshared his Oct. 16 op-ed in the New York Times on CDA230, noting that only big tech monopolies benefit from weakening Section 230. 
     
Again, we have a problem in that the public doesn't understand the concept of downstream liability protection and why it matters, as it also does on 2nd Amendment issues. There is a fundamental ethical problem where speakers (and platforms and hosts) should take on some of the "moral hazard" of the illiteracy, especially on tech, of the public at large.  David Pakman has talked about this before. 
       
Naomi Gilens and Saira Hussein report for Electronic Frontier Foundation that USDC 1324 is being challenged before the Supreme Court in US v. Sinenen-Smith.  This is a law that criminalizes “encouraging” illegal immigration.  It would be challenged on First Amendment grounds. An immigration consultant was prosecuted under the “Encouragement Provision”.  This case needs to be watched.  Persons wanting to help refugees and asylum seekers need to be careful about this, and realize it is illegal (and can lead to serious criminal charges) to try to arrange people to come into the country illegally (I read about various cases in 2016 especially when I was considering hosting – this was before Trump’s election.) 
   
 EFF also has a Jan. 24 press release reporting that a lawsuit challenging FOSTA has been reinstated. WJLA7 in Washington DC (owned by conservative Sinclair) has reported that FOSTA has led to more assaults on transgender PoC sex workers in the District, and HRC has not paid as much attention to libertarian arguments against this law as it could.  

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