The Internet Association, Information Technology Industry Council, Semiconductor Industry Association, Computer & Communications Industry Association, BSA | The Software Alliance, the Computing Technology Industry Association, the Consumer Technology Association, NetChoice and TechNet were among the many (many!) industry groups to praise the agreement Tuesday. Amazon also applauded the deal, tweeting that it “breaks new ground on digital trade and cuts red tape for Amazon customers and sellers.”
Today, NetChoice reiterated support for the inclusion of Section 230 language in President Trump’s North American trade agreement, USMCA.
“Speaker Pelosi fights on behalf of vulnerable communities, yet it is these very communities throughout North America that benefit most from access to social media and online marketplaces,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel at NetChoice.
“The inclusion of Section 230 language in the USMCA is a win-win for all signatories. Consumers gain access to an abundance of online content, and businesses can connect directly to customers using e-commerce marketplaces and social media marketing.”
NetChoice has also published a piece titled “Section 230 Should be in Our Trade Agreements. Here’s Why.” which covers the various reasons that inclusion of digital intermediary liability protections are vital for modern trade agreements.
“The inclusion of Section 230 language in the USMCA is a win-win for all signatories,” says Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel for NetChoice, an advocacy group that favors the inclusion of online liability protections in trade deals. “Consumers gain access to an abundance of online content, and businesses can connect directly to customers using e-commerce marketplaces and social media marketing.”
When Twitter announced its recent ban on political advertising, the Trump campaign leveled heavy criticism at the platform, suggesting in an official statement that walking away from “hundreds of millions of dollars of potential revenue” was “a dumb decision for their stockholders.” And when Facebook recently rejected a blanket ban on political ads, actor Sacha Baron Cohen made headlines for proclaiming that the platform would have agreed to run ads for the Nazis (something a look at Facebook’s community standards quickly proves wrong).
This argument is one of the top lines NetChoice, a D.C-based, conservative-focused lobby group that counts Google, Facebook, and Twitter among its clients. In January, NetChoice VP Carl Szabo testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee about why online platforms shouldn’t be subject to antitrust investigations — and the Fairness Doctrine comparison was at the forefront of his argument.
Today, Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang released a slew of tech proposals, covering four main issues:
- Privacy and Consumer Data
- The Use of Technology, Especially by Young People
- Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act
- Antitrust Enforcement and Tech
Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel at NetChoice pushed back on Yang’s proposals:
Privacy and Consumer Data
“The current online advertising model enables consumers to access high quality content and sophisticated services for free. Yang’s policy would create more paywalls around content and diminish the presence of free services.”
“On Yang’s internet we will have more paywalls and less content.”
“Americans support the current market structure. By a 3-to-1 margin Americans prefer online services to be funded by targeted advertising rather than paying for them directly.”
The Use of Technology, Especially by Young People
“The surge in access to technology and the internet in the 21st Century benefits us all every day – that’s why tech is so prevalent in society today.”
“For a candidate who claims to focus on “evidence-based policy,” Yang’s most outlandish claims lack evidence.”
“Rather than proposing knee-jerk policy responses to perceived problems, Yang should wait for more evidence on tech’s impact on children and not ignore a recent study that found no link between social media usage and negative impacts on mental health in teens.”
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act
“We must dispel with this myth that because online services moderate user-created content, they are equivalent to the New York Times or the Washington Post. Unlike the journalists at the New York Times or Washington Post, Facebook doesn’t write posts and Twitter doesn’t write tweets — users do.
“The New York Times and the Washington Post’s comment section benefits from the same legal structure and protections as social media businesses.”
“Social media services moderate content to reduce the presence of hate speech, scams, and spam. Yang’s proposal to amend Section 230 would likely increase the amount of hate speech and terrorist content online.”
“Yang incorrectly claims a “publisher vs. platform grey area.” Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act does not categorize online services. Section 230 enables services that host user-created content to remove content without assuming liability.”
Antitrust Enforcement and Tech
“We welcome Yang’s recognition that breaking up tech businesses wouldn’t benefit consumers. The role of antitrust and regulation in the U.S. is to protect consumers, not competitors of successful businesses.”
“Social media services moderate content to reduce the presence of hate speech, scams, and spam,” Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel at the trade organization NetChoice, said in a statement. “Yang’s proposal to amend Section 230 would likely increase the amount of hate speech and terrorist content online.”
It’s possible that Yang misunderstands the very core of the law. “We must address once and for all the publisher vs. platform grey area that tech companies have lived in for years,” he writes. But that dichotomy is a fiction.
“Yang incorrectly claims a ‘publisher vs. platform grey area.’ Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act does not categorize online services,” Szabo says. “Section 230 enables services that host user-created content to remove content without assuming liability.”
“Holding Facebook liable for a user’s false statement is like holding CNN liable if candidate Biden made a false statement on their Town Hall last night,” says Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel for NetChoice, a nonprofit that favors digital free speech.
Today, NetChoice criticized the problematic statement made by presidential candidate Joe Biden last night that platforms should be responsible for false posts by their users.
“Candidate Joe Biden suggests we should suppress free speech and make Facebook and Google the arbiters of truth,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel at NetChoice.
“Holding Facebook liable for a user’s false statement is like holding CNN liable if candidate Biden made a false statement on their Town Hall last night.”
“I wonder if Biden thinks TV stations and newspapers should be liable for false claims in political ads they are paid to show, especially since these mediums are the majority of political ad spending.”
Political ads are nothing new. Misleading statements are nothing new in politics either. But when this occurs online, as opposed to on TV or in newspapers, that’s when tech-critics like Tim Wu suddenly have a problem.
In his New York Times op-ed, Wu airs his grievances with online businesses that dare to host political ads. Moreover, Wu complains that these businesses dare to allow politicians to include false statements in political ads.