NetChoice Voices Concerns Over House Judiciary Committee Antitrust Hearing

Tomorrow, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing entitled “Online Platforms and Market Power, Part 1: The Free and Diverse Press.” NetChoice is concerned that the hearing will be used to push for government to protect big media companies rather than to act in the interests of consumers.

“It’s clear this is just an attack on social media by big media companies upset that they no longer control our news and views,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel at NetChoice.

“Big media is showing its true colors by supporting antitrust exemptions for themselves, while demanding tougher antitrust enforcement on tech businesses.”

“It’s hypocritical for legislators to simultaneously complain about the size of tech businesses while seeking to pass a law to give more power to Rupert Murdoch and Carlos Slim.”

“Big media is struggling to dominate again as they did before the internet,” continued Szabo. “Rather than looking for government to tear down tech businesses, big media should follow tech’s lead and innovate so they are more competitive.”

NetChoices Voices Concerns with “Protecting Children from Online Predators Act.”

Today, Sen. Hawley (R-MO) announced plans to introduce the “Protecting Children from Online Predators Act.” The bill would ban “video hosting websites” from showing videos depicting minors as part of Youtube recommendations.

“While Hawley’s goal is to help minors, his bill would suppress all videos featuring minors — with the unintended effect that high schools and youth groups like the YMCA cannot effectively promote their activities.”

“The largest social media platforms are devoting substantial resources to remove child exploitation content from their websites. Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook together removed over 16 million users who had violated child safety standards in the second half of 2018.”

NetChoice Applauds New YouTube Community Guidelines

Today, Google announced in a blog post that it is updating YouTube’s community guidelines. The move will further reduce the presence of supremacist and hateful content on YouTube’s platform.

“It’s clear Google has listened to concerns from Congress and the public about harmful content and the role of content moderation,” said Carl Szabo, VP and General Counsel at NetChoice.

“Google rightly met with voices from across the political spectrum to craft these fair and effective rules.”

“We should all celebrate Google’s move to increase transparency and make YouTube better for its users and advertisers,” continued Szabo. “Google is ensuring that YouTube prevents the spread of cruelty online – regardless of political affiliation.”

Antitrust Investigations into Apple, Amazon, and Google are Misguided

“The Justice Department’s investigation of Google will come to the same conclusion as the FTC’s did in 2013 — that there is no antitrust case,” said Carl Szabo, NetChoice Vice President and General Counsel.

“It’s illogical that the DOJ is investigating competitors in the same market for monopoly behavior. Amazon, Apple, and Google all compete with each other in a vibrant and competitive marketplace.”

“Consumers don’t have antitrust concerns with America’s tech industry. NetChoice polling from August 2018 shows that less than 5% of consumers say antitrust enforcement should be most focused on tech,” continued Szabo.

“Pointless antitrust attacks on American businesses risks stalling-out America’s tech leadership as competition from China is fiercer than ever before.”

NetChoice Objects to Hyperbolic Statements Calling Facebook a “Willing Enabler” of Russian Interference

Today Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Facebook was a “willing enabler of the Russian interference in our elections.”

“Facebook is taking extraordinary steps to protect our democracy. This type of hyperbole makes it hard to identify the real bad actors,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President of NetChoice. “Speaker Pelosi’s accusation that Facebook is a “willing enabler” of Russian interference in our elections is false and over-the-top. It’s obvious that Facebook is hugely invested in ensuring that its platform won’t be misused to aid election interference,” continued Szabo.

“Hyperbolic attacks on platforms won’t help solve the tech issues of today,” said Szabo.

The Do Not Track Act Would Harm the Digital Marketplace

Today, Sen. Hawley announced the introduction of the “Do Not Track Act.” The bill claims to give consumers the right to use online services without allowing those services to use interest-based advertising.

“This bill harms consumers and competition,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel at NetChoice. “By preventing the use of interest-based ads, this bill will result in more ads, more paywalls, and less content.”

“Sen. Hawley’s bill undermines small online businesses trying to compete with large incumbents by preventing them from making the most from their smaller user base. This bill most helps large businesses with trusted names while kneecapping future competitors.”

“Sen. Hawley’s bill doesn’t give users more rights over their data, it gives users the right to use online platforms without paying for them.”

NetChoice and Congressman Cox File Amicus Brief Protecting Homeowners Using Airbnb and HomeAway in Santa Monica

Today, NetChoice filed, alongside Chris Cox, Former Member of Congress and Co-Author Of CDA Section 230, an amicus brief in HomeAway and Airbnb v Santa Monica.  As the brief outlines, “the Panel opinion in this case upends the well-established meaning of the words of Section 230, and will have dramatic consequences by overriding the intent of Congress.”

“The prior Panel ruling by the ninth circuit violates the very principles Section 230 put into law and if left in place risks closing-off avenues for free enterprise and free speech for all Americans.  We expect and support an overturning of the prior ruling,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel at NetChoice.

“Section 230 empowers individuals and businesses all over the country through the use of online platforms like HomeAway and Airbnb,” continued Szabo. “The prior decision runs contrary to multiple 9th Circuit decisions that have upheld Section 230 and enabled unprecedented innovation.”
The full amicus brief can be read here.

NetChoice Comments on Marriott’s Home Sharing Division Announcement

Today, Marriott announced the US rollout of their new home sharing division.

“Marriott has spent the last few years attacking home sharing. This confirms that the big chain hotel association, AHLA was just kneecapping new competitors while its large scale members scrambled to develop their own home sharing platforms,” said Steve DelBianco, President of NetChoice.

“Now that big hotel chains embrace the benefits of home sharing, AHLA should cease fear-mongering about home sharing and protect the rights of homeowners to earn income on their properties.”

NetChoice Comments on FTC Facebook Fine

“The expected fine demonstrates to consumers and European regulators that the FTC is serious about privacy,” said Steve DelBianco, President of NetChoice. “The fine shows that American businesses should not trust any Cambridge University professor who promises to protect user data.”

“A multi billion dollar settlement is vastly greater than the UK’s $600,000 privacy fine and demonstrates the FTC is a serious enforcer of privacy laws,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel at NetChoice. “This is not a slam dunk case for the FTC. The FTC knows that if they overplay their hand they will lose in court.”

NetChoice Raises Concerns About Attacks on Platforms’ Ability to Remove Content

Today, NetChoice raised concerns about suggestions made by members of the US Senate Judiciary Subcommittee that government should prevent online platforms from removing content they find objectionable ahead of today’s hearing, “Stifling Free Speech: Technological Censorship and the Public Discourse”.

“If we prevent online platforms from removing objectionable content, we risk turning online platforms into 8-Chan,” said Carl Szabo, General Counsel for NetChoice. “Section 230 was specifically created to enable private platforms to remove offensive content.”

“Online platforms have bolstered conservative speech in public discourse, empowering modern conservative thought leaders such as Ben Shapiro, Jordan Peterson, and Blaire White,” continued Szabo.

“Sen. Cruz is a smart lawyer who surely wants online platforms to remove violent and hateful content, so he’s not really looking to apply the first amendment to private parties.” said Steve DelBianco, President of NetChoice. “Sen. Cruz just wants assurances that online platforms are not curtailing conservative speech. We look forward to today’s witnesses giving him those assurances.”