Monday, December 07, 2020

House, then Senate to move on CDA230; override sounds likely; if 230 were scrapped suddenly, what would tech companies do? Platforms and web hosts are very different!


DC Metro mask policy

Politico reports (Connor O’Brien) that Congress is moving on the NDAA issue this week and that Trump is setting up a confrontation with sponsor Jim Inhofe (R-OK) over Inhofe’s refusal to add a provision regarding repealing Section 230.  It’s noteworthy that Inhofe says he opposes 230 (at least as written) but it has nothing to do with a defense bill. 

CNN said this morning that the House might vote Tuesday, on a bill that makes no mention of 230.  It sounds like it would pass by an override majority (2/3). It might go to the Senate quickly, where it is less clear that there is an override majority. McConnell is known to be averse to introducing bills which

If it is not passed in this session, it has to be reintroduced in January.

There seem to be two problems among conservative Republicans; (1) social media platform of “conservative” speech, which the platforms deny (2) insults to the commander in chief (which authoritarian leaders see as an invitation for enemies to attack;  Democrats are more worried about “hate speech” or even “hurtful” (Angela Merkel saying your broadcasting your opinion on your own does not come with ‘zero consequences’), even well-intended reporting of matters (like militia groups) that less intact people will not be able to grasp in the right context without feeling radicalized. The two hearings (Oct 28 and Nov 10) were quite contentious.

Greg Steube may have a point in his compromise bill, toward the end of the Newsmax video.

It seems almost unthinkable how the tech industry would react to Section 230 being yanked right out from under them as a political stunt. They could cancel a lot of accounts that are not “commercially viable” (able to earn revenue) and for speech only, and greatly reduce the size of their business, as a hardship sacrifice similar to that of other industries during the pandemic. But there is nothing that really makes a lot of sense if thought through.

It’s unclear how webhosts would be affected, because they don’t moderate content and might get by on a couple of decisions in the 90s (Prodigy and Compuserve). A service like Blogger is similar to a hosted site in that Google does not moderate or modify blog content (very different from social media like twitter or Facebook). You could also look at a YouTube channel that way.  Youtube does mess with monetization arbitrarily, and faces separate new problems in the EU over the copyright directive. It might remove smaller accounts (like mine) with no commercial future, or give creators a certain amount of time to establish a legitimate commercial presence.  On the other hand, it could look at accounts that have no history of “strikes” or complaints more favorably.

I’m not sure how Google makes money with Blogger, the platform this post is on.  It stopped Google+ rather abruptly in April 2019.  But it has recently revamped and replaced the editor (with a Guttenberg-style look), which would sound like a good sign it intends to keep it.  Back ten years ago, after various blogs were removed as “spam” somewhat arbitrarily, I wondered if it would be stable, but it has been.  At one time, it required captcha’s to update posts but stopped that with me around 2008. 

Update: Dec. 8:   The House passed the NDAA today 335-78-1 by a veto-proof majority, ABC News story

Note: Electronic Frontier Foundation warns that Case Act is attached to stimulus bill. 

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