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.”
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.”
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.”
“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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
“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.”
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.”
Today, NetChoice was concerned by suggestions made during the US Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution Hearing: Stifling Free Speech: Technological Censorship and the Public Discourse to prevent platforms from removing content it finds objectionable.
“Despite the misinformation, Section 230 was specifically created to enable content moderation and removal of offensive content.” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel for NetChoice. “It’s surprising that conservatives support the Hobby Lobby decision while oppose the rights of private platforms to remove content they deem objectionable to users and advertisers.”
“Preclusions on platforms removing content would require ChristiansLikeMe to retain atheist’s “political” comments.” warned Szabo. “If we prevent online platforms from removing objectionable content we risk turning the whole internet into 8-Chan.”
Today, NetChoice commended Congressman Darin LaHood (R-IL) for leading the effort to combat discriminatory tax proposals coming from Europe.
“France’s Digital Service Tax’s (DST) targeting of U.S. companies is the poster child for taxation without representation,” said Carl Szabo, VP and General Counsel at NetChoice. “These taxes are designed to target American businesses regardless of whether they’re physically present in Europe.”
“France’s DST ignores advertising by newspapers and television by only taxing online businesses, most of whom are housed in the United States. DST is obviously intentional and patently unfair,” continued Szabo. “We commend Rep. LaHood for his initiative in pushing the White House to protect America’s businesses and combat this tax by a foreign power.”
Today, NetChoice and the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) voiced concerns over the “Journalism Competition and Preservation Act,” reintroduced by Rep. Cicilline (D-RI), and co-sponsored by Rep. Collins (R-GA).
The legislation would exempt media companies from certain antitrust laws, allowing them to collude against online platforms such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter.
“This bill empowers big media to circumvent antitrust laws and collude to grow their power.” said Carl Szabo, VP and General Counsel at NetChoice. “We should reject attempts by those representing the ‘old economy’ to maintain relevance and gain advantages to the detriment of the consumer.”
“This legislation empowers big media to force prioritization of their content over their competitors,” continued Szabo.
TPA President David Williams also voiced concerns with the legislation’s text arguing “Companies should get equal treatment under the law, instead of big media companies enjoying a lucrative exemption from antitrust laws.”
“Instead of complicating regulations via special carve-outs, lawmakers should look to simplify rules and promote digital innovation.”
Today, NetChoice was concerned by suggestions made by Sen. Cory Booker during a campaign event in Washington that suggested he could weaponize antitrust law against American tech companies.
“We are not seeing a call for antitrust enforcement but rather an attack on successful businesses,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel at NetChoice. “Breaking-up America’s most successful innovators will leave a vacuum only to be filled by foreign enterprises.”
“Antitrust should not be exploited for political purposes – to do so undermines the American public’s trust in fair and honest enforcement of laws,” continued Szabo.
“The reaction to Sen. Warren’s antitrust proposal shows that Americans want fair rather than political enforcement of antitrust laws.”
“Zuckerberg rightly raised the threat to American businesses from data nationalization laws around the world, many of which intentionally target the U.S. tech economy,” said Steve DelBianco, President of NetChoice.
“Zuckerberg welcomed national or even global consensus about standards to moderate harmful content such as hate speech and terrorist propaganda. Until then, Facebook will continue to moderate content in order to meet the terms of service it promises to users.”
Today, NetChoice identified legal infirmities in Rep. Devin Nunes’s lawsuit against Twitter for comments posted on the platform.
“This lawsuit underscores the importance of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act which empowers platforms to host content and discussions of our elected officials — whether our elected officials like it or not,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel at NetChoice.
“Twitter has been an amazing forum for discussing – and yes, criticizing – our public officials, hopefully this lawsuit doesn’t undermine that.” continued Szabo. “The ability to criticize our public officials is core to our American principles.”
“This suit’s survival is unlikely as the ability to criticize and mock our public officials is well settled court doctrine.”
Today, NetChoice voiced concerns about today’s Ninth Circuit Ruling that could undermine Section 230 and threaten the legal structure that empowers entrepreneurs online.
“The Ninth Circuit’s ruling is wrong and violates the reasoning behind Section 230. This decision risks closing-off avenues of free speech and free enterprise for all Americans,” 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.”
“This ruling runs contrary to multiple court decisions that have upheld Section 230 and enabled unprecedented innovation.”
NetChoice filed a joint “friend of the court” brief with Hon. Chris Cos on this case last year.
“Sen. Warren is wrong in her assertion that tech companies lack competition,” said Carl Szabo, vice president of the trade group NetChoice that lists both Facebook and Google as members. “Never before have consumers had access to more goods, services, and opportunities online.”
44 smaller outlets also quoted NetChoice.
Today, NetChoice challenged US Senator Warren’s new Medium post supporting the breaking-up of successful American tech businesses like Amazon, Facebook, and Google.
“Sen. Warren is wrong in her assertion that tech markets lack competition. Never before have consumers and workers had more access to goods, services, and opportunities online,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel for NetChoice.
“Breaking up tech companies would hurt – not help – America’s middle class,” continued Szabo.
“Sen. Warren’s proposal would increase prices for consumers, make search and maps less useful, and raise costs to small businesses that advertise online. This proposal is bad for all Americans.”
Startups have never been more prevalent. The Kauffman Index of Growth Entrepreneurship shows that entrepreneurship is at its highest levels since 2008. Main street growth and startup activity are likewise up. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics found self-employment is up since 2014 and is projected to grow at 7.9% — faster than the projected rate for all workers.
Today, NetChoice challenged US Senator Klobuchar’s comments on weaponizing antitrust during today’s Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights – “Does America Have a Monopoly Problem?: Examining Concentration and Competition in the US Economy”
“It’s concerning to hear a US Senator weaponizing antitrust for campaign slogans while in the same breath berating the President over his approach to antitrust,” said Carl Szabo, NetChoice Vice President and General Counsel.
“Contrary to the claims of some presidential candidates, consumers have never had more choice when it comes to online services.”