Joe Biden wants to get rid of Big Tech’s most prized protection. In an interview with the New York Times last week, Biden said he wants to revoke Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act “immediately.” Section 230 protects tech giants from normal publisher liabilities, exempting them from being sued for libel over posts published on their platforms.
Biden wants to eliminate this protection because Facebook spreads “fake news.” [Interview With Joe Biden, by New York Times Editorial Board, New York Times, January 17, 2020]
“[The New York Times] can’t write something you know to be false and be exempt from being sued. But [Mark Zuckerberg] can. The idea that it’s a tech company is that Section 230 should be revoked, immediately should be revoked, number one. For Zuckerberg and other platforms,” the former vice president told the Times. “It should be revoked because it is not merely an internet company. It is propagating falsehoods they know to be false.”
Biden is the first Democratic presidential candidate to endorse this proposal. The Watcher has previously noted that some prominent Democrats, such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have entertained the idea.
VDARE.com readers probably have some familiarity with Section 230. Free speech advocates want President Trump and Republicans to target this protection in order to defend the First Amendment online. Part of the reason tech giants receive this privilege is because they are assumed to operate as neutral political forums. We all know they don’t operate as neutral forums.
Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley introduced a bill last summer that aimed to put the pressure on tech giants that suppress free speech with revocation of this protection. Tech giants would have to prove they respect free speech to keep Section 230 protections.
Biden’s aim is far different and more insidious. He wants this privilege revoked so Big Tech censors more. Liberals like the former vice president see Facebook and Twitter as hotbeds of racism and Russian disinformation. So they want the tech giants to crack down and only allow opinions and information that the New York Times would approve of.
Biden’s proposal demonstrates how a Democratic president will prioritize tech censorship and make it worse. Trump is not perfect, but at least he acknowledges tech censorship and wants to do something about it.