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Tech Groups Stand Fast With Section 230, Algorithmic Reform, Broadband Funding for States

Tim White

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Photo of Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., from January 2019 by Internet Education Foundation used with permission

March 25, 2021 – The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation has released a statement doubling down on the importance of internet liability protection under Section 230 ahead of a congressional hearing on disinformation Thursday.

“Section 230 has come under the regulatory microscope as Congress evaluates the impact of harmful online activity like disinformation and the role of online platforms in preventing and addressing this activity,” the group said in a Wednesday press release.

“Section 230 continues to be instrumental in enabling innovative online business models that rely on user-generated content and providing companies the liability protection necessary to allow them to moderate user content, it reads.

The release comes ahead of a hearing hosted by the House Energy and Commerce Committee studying “Disinformation Nation: Social Media’s Role in Promoting Extremism and Misinformation.”

ITIF has proposed a three-pronged approach to Section 230 reform that would expand federal criminal law around certain forms of harmful online activity, establish a good faith requirement to prevent bad actors from taking advantage of Section 230(c)(1)’s liability shield, and establish a voluntary safe harbor provision to limit financial liability for online services that adhere to standard industry measures for addressing illegal activity, the statement says.

Congress should enact targeted changes to Section 230 to ensure companies are taking responsibility for addressing harmful content and conduct on their platforms, including disinformation, while preserving Section 230’s benefits for innovation and free speech, the statement reads.

Some argue that amending Section 230 would come with serious consequences, however, including too much moderation of content, and loss of evidence as platforms remove that content.

Algorithmic reform for social media

Reps. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., and Tom Malinowski, D-N.J., reintroduced the Protecting Americans from Dangerous Algorithms Act, H.R. 2154, a bill intended to hold social media companies accountable for their “algorithmic amplification of harmful, radicalizing content that leads to offline violence,” according to a statement released Wednesday.

“When social media companies amplify extreme and misleading content on their platforms, the consequences can be deadly, as we saw on January 6th. It’s time for Congress to step in and hold these platforms accountable,” Eshoo said.

The legislation would amend Section 230 of the Telecommunications Act to remove liability immunity for a social media platform if its algorithm is used to amplify or recommend content directly relevant to three statutes: cases involving interference with civil rights, neglect to prevent interference with civil rights, and in cases involving acts of international terrorism. The bill would apply only to companies with 10 million or more platform users.

The three statutes have been cited in recent lawsuits against several fringe groups following the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, and in a lawsuit against Facebook that alleges its data algorithm enabled foreign terrorist groups to connect with each other and caused violence against Americans.

Other members of Congress have proposed legislation that would amend Section 230 in other ways, such as keeping the immunity clause for companies, except for content the company pays for.

‘Eliminate the Digital Divide Act’ would distribute broadband funds to states

Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Joe Manchin, D-W.V., reintroduced the bipartisan Eliminate the Digital Divide Act of 2021, S.922, legislation to fund broadband projects for states.

A House version of the bill was introduced as H.R. 2183 by Reps. Roger Williams, R-Texas, and Jim Cooper, D-Tennessee.

The bill would distribute $10 billion to states for broadband infrastructure, targeted toward unserved areas. It includes a process to deliver funds based on the proportion of those geographic areas, and an additional $1 billion reserved for states with exceptional high-cost areas such as West Virginia.

“Now more than ever, access to reliable broadband services is critical for businesses, learning, healthcare and daily life. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the long-standing issue of reliable internet access across rural America,” said Manchin. “West Virginia has failed to see the benefits of federal programs that often serve the most easily accessible areas. That’s why my bill also includes $1 billion for high-cost areas like West Virginia where the cost to build broadband infrastructure is more expensive due to mountainous terrain and other factors,” he said.

“As we increasingly depend on digital communication to work, learn, and stay connected, we must not leave those without access to broadband in the dark,” Cornyn said. “This bill will help bridge the digital divide and ensure Texans have access to more affordable broadband options across the state. Allowing governors, not bureaucrats in Washington, to direct broadband dollars is crucial to ensuring Texans are connected,” he said.

Several other large broadband funding bills have been introduced recently, including the Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act by Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., that would pour $100 billion funding into broadband projects. It has been incorporated into the Leading Infrastructure for Tomorrow’s America (LIFT) Act, a larger infrastructure package.

Broadband Roundup

Lina Khan Advances In FTC Bid, Biden Signs Executive Order On Cybersecurity, And Commits To Combatting Extremism

Lina Khan continues toward FTC role, Biden makes cybersecurity order after Colonial Pipeline, and U.S. joins the Christchurch call.

Benjamin Kahn

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Lina Khan continues bid for lead on FTC

March 25, 2021 – The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation has released a statement doubling down on the importance of internet liability protection under Section 230 ahead of a congressional hearing on disinformation Thursday.

“Section 230 has come under the regulatory microscope as Congress evaluates the impact of harmful online activity like disinformation and the role of online platforms in preventing and addressing this activity,” the group said in a Wednesday press release.

“Section 230 continues to be instrumental in enabling innovative online business models that rely on user-generated content and providing companies the liability protection necessary to allow them to moderate user content, it reads.

The release comes ahead of a hearing hosted by the House Energy and Commerce Committee studying “Disinformation Nation: Social Media’s Role in Promoting Extremism and Misinformation.”

ITIF has proposed a three-pronged approach to Section 230 reform that would expand federal criminal law around certain forms of harmful online activity, establish a good faith requirement to prevent bad actors from taking advantage of Section 230(c)(1)’s liability shield, and establish a voluntary safe harbor provision to limit financial liability for online services that adhere to standard industry measures for addressing illegal activity, the statement says.

Congress should enact targeted changes to Section 230 to ensure companies are taking responsibility for addressing harmful content and conduct on their platforms, including disinformation, while preserving Section 230’s benefits for innovation and free speech, the statement reads.

Some argue that amending Section 230 would come with serious consequences, however, including too much moderation of content, and loss of evidence as platforms remove that content.

Algorithmic reform for social media

Reps. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., and Tom Malinowski, D-N.J., reintroduced the Protecting Americans from Dangerous Algorithms Act, H.R. 2154, a bill intended to hold social media companies accountable for their “algorithmic amplification of harmful, radicalizing content that leads to offline violence,” according to a statement released Wednesday.

“When social media companies amplify extreme and misleading content on their platforms, the consequences can be deadly, as we saw on January 6th. It’s time for Congress to step in and hold these platforms accountable,” Eshoo said.

The legislation would amend Section 230 of the Telecommunications Act to remove liability immunity for a social media platform if its algorithm is used to amplify or recommend content directly relevant to three statutes: cases involving interference with civil rights, neglect to prevent interference with civil rights, and in cases involving acts of international terrorism. The bill would apply only to companies with 10 million or more platform users.

The three statutes have been cited in recent lawsuits against several fringe groups following the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, and in a lawsuit against Facebook that alleges its data algorithm enabled foreign terrorist groups to connect with each other and caused violence against Americans.

Other members of Congress have proposed legislation that would amend Section 230 in other ways, such as keeping the immunity clause for companies, except for content the company pays for.

‘Eliminate the Digital Divide Act’ would distribute broadband funds to states

Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Joe Manchin, D-W.V., reintroduced the bipartisan Eliminate the Digital Divide Act of 2021, S.922, legislation to fund broadband projects for states.

A House version of the bill was introduced as H.R. 2183 by Reps. Roger Williams, R-Texas, and Jim Cooper, D-Tennessee.

The bill would distribute $10 billion to states for broadband infrastructure, targeted toward unserved areas. It includes a process to deliver funds based on the proportion of those geographic areas, and an additional $1 billion reserved for states with exceptional high-cost areas such as West Virginia.

“Now more than ever, access to reliable broadband services is critical for businesses, learning, healthcare and daily life. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the long-standing issue of reliable internet access across rural America,” said Manchin. “West Virginia has failed to see the benefits of federal programs that often serve the most easily accessible areas. That’s why my bill also includes $1 billion for high-cost areas like West Virginia where the cost to build broadband infrastructure is more expensive due to mountainous terrain and other factors,” he said.

“As we increasingly depend on digital communication to work, learn, and stay connected, we must not leave those without access to broadband in the dark,” Cornyn said. “This bill will help bridge the digital divide and ensure Texans have access to more affordable broadband options across the state. Allowing governors, not bureaucrats in Washington, to direct broadband dollars is crucial to ensuring Texans are connected,” he said.

Several other large broadband funding bills have been introduced recently, including the Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act by Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., that would pour $100 billion funding into broadband projects. It has been incorporated into the Leading Infrastructure for Tomorrow’s America (LIFT) Act, a larger infrastructure package.

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Broadband Roundup

Vermont Looks To Expand Coverage, California Moves On Passive Infrastructure, AT&T Gets DoT Contract, Cisco Buys Sedona

Vermont looks to expand broadband, California looks at passive infrastructure, AT&T gets DoT contract, and Cisco to buy Sedona.

Benjamin Kahn

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Vermont Governor Phil Scott

March 25, 2021 – The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation has released a statement doubling down on the importance of internet liability protection under Section 230 ahead of a congressional hearing on disinformation Thursday.

“Section 230 has come under the regulatory microscope as Congress evaluates the impact of harmful online activity like disinformation and the role of online platforms in preventing and addressing this activity,” the group said in a Wednesday press release.

“Section 230 continues to be instrumental in enabling innovative online business models that rely on user-generated content and providing companies the liability protection necessary to allow them to moderate user content, it reads.

The release comes ahead of a hearing hosted by the House Energy and Commerce Committee studying “Disinformation Nation: Social Media’s Role in Promoting Extremism and Misinformation.”

ITIF has proposed a three-pronged approach to Section 230 reform that would expand federal criminal law around certain forms of harmful online activity, establish a good faith requirement to prevent bad actors from taking advantage of Section 230(c)(1)’s liability shield, and establish a voluntary safe harbor provision to limit financial liability for online services that adhere to standard industry measures for addressing illegal activity, the statement says.

Congress should enact targeted changes to Section 230 to ensure companies are taking responsibility for addressing harmful content and conduct on their platforms, including disinformation, while preserving Section 230’s benefits for innovation and free speech, the statement reads.

Some argue that amending Section 230 would come with serious consequences, however, including too much moderation of content, and loss of evidence as platforms remove that content.

Algorithmic reform for social media

Reps. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., and Tom Malinowski, D-N.J., reintroduced the Protecting Americans from Dangerous Algorithms Act, H.R. 2154, a bill intended to hold social media companies accountable for their “algorithmic amplification of harmful, radicalizing content that leads to offline violence,” according to a statement released Wednesday.

“When social media companies amplify extreme and misleading content on their platforms, the consequences can be deadly, as we saw on January 6th. It’s time for Congress to step in and hold these platforms accountable,” Eshoo said.

The legislation would amend Section 230 of the Telecommunications Act to remove liability immunity for a social media platform if its algorithm is used to amplify or recommend content directly relevant to three statutes: cases involving interference with civil rights, neglect to prevent interference with civil rights, and in cases involving acts of international terrorism. The bill would apply only to companies with 10 million or more platform users.

The three statutes have been cited in recent lawsuits against several fringe groups following the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, and in a lawsuit against Facebook that alleges its data algorithm enabled foreign terrorist groups to connect with each other and caused violence against Americans.

Other members of Congress have proposed legislation that would amend Section 230 in other ways, such as keeping the immunity clause for companies, except for content the company pays for.

‘Eliminate the Digital Divide Act’ would distribute broadband funds to states

Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Joe Manchin, D-W.V., reintroduced the bipartisan Eliminate the Digital Divide Act of 2021, S.922, legislation to fund broadband projects for states.

A House version of the bill was introduced as H.R. 2183 by Reps. Roger Williams, R-Texas, and Jim Cooper, D-Tennessee.

The bill would distribute $10 billion to states for broadband infrastructure, targeted toward unserved areas. It includes a process to deliver funds based on the proportion of those geographic areas, and an additional $1 billion reserved for states with exceptional high-cost areas such as West Virginia.

“Now more than ever, access to reliable broadband services is critical for businesses, learning, healthcare and daily life. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the long-standing issue of reliable internet access across rural America,” said Manchin. “West Virginia has failed to see the benefits of federal programs that often serve the most easily accessible areas. That’s why my bill also includes $1 billion for high-cost areas like West Virginia where the cost to build broadband infrastructure is more expensive due to mountainous terrain and other factors,” he said.

“As we increasingly depend on digital communication to work, learn, and stay connected, we must not leave those without access to broadband in the dark,” Cornyn said. “This bill will help bridge the digital divide and ensure Texans have access to more affordable broadband options across the state. Allowing governors, not bureaucrats in Washington, to direct broadband dollars is crucial to ensuring Texans are connected,” he said.

Several other large broadband funding bills have been introduced recently, including the Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act by Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., that would pour $100 billion funding into broadband projects. It has been incorporated into the Leading Infrastructure for Tomorrow’s America (LIFT) Act, a larger infrastructure package.

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Broadband Roundup

Alabama Dispenses $17M In Broadband Funds, New Broadband Mapping Insight, Pipeline Attack

Ivey announces $17 million to deploy broadband, Microsoft data for broadband map, and “Robin Hood” group involved in pipeline attack.

Benjamin Kahn

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on

Photo of Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey

March 25, 2021 – The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation has released a statement doubling down on the importance of internet liability protection under Section 230 ahead of a congressional hearing on disinformation Thursday.

“Section 230 has come under the regulatory microscope as Congress evaluates the impact of harmful online activity like disinformation and the role of online platforms in preventing and addressing this activity,” the group said in a Wednesday press release.

“Section 230 continues to be instrumental in enabling innovative online business models that rely on user-generated content and providing companies the liability protection necessary to allow them to moderate user content, it reads.

The release comes ahead of a hearing hosted by the House Energy and Commerce Committee studying “Disinformation Nation: Social Media’s Role in Promoting Extremism and Misinformation.”

ITIF has proposed a three-pronged approach to Section 230 reform that would expand federal criminal law around certain forms of harmful online activity, establish a good faith requirement to prevent bad actors from taking advantage of Section 230(c)(1)’s liability shield, and establish a voluntary safe harbor provision to limit financial liability for online services that adhere to standard industry measures for addressing illegal activity, the statement says.

Congress should enact targeted changes to Section 230 to ensure companies are taking responsibility for addressing harmful content and conduct on their platforms, including disinformation, while preserving Section 230’s benefits for innovation and free speech, the statement reads.

Some argue that amending Section 230 would come with serious consequences, however, including too much moderation of content, and loss of evidence as platforms remove that content.

Algorithmic reform for social media

Reps. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., and Tom Malinowski, D-N.J., reintroduced the Protecting Americans from Dangerous Algorithms Act, H.R. 2154, a bill intended to hold social media companies accountable for their “algorithmic amplification of harmful, radicalizing content that leads to offline violence,” according to a statement released Wednesday.

“When social media companies amplify extreme and misleading content on their platforms, the consequences can be deadly, as we saw on January 6th. It’s time for Congress to step in and hold these platforms accountable,” Eshoo said.

The legislation would amend Section 230 of the Telecommunications Act to remove liability immunity for a social media platform if its algorithm is used to amplify or recommend content directly relevant to three statutes: cases involving interference with civil rights, neglect to prevent interference with civil rights, and in cases involving acts of international terrorism. The bill would apply only to companies with 10 million or more platform users.

The three statutes have been cited in recent lawsuits against several fringe groups following the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, and in a lawsuit against Facebook that alleges its data algorithm enabled foreign terrorist groups to connect with each other and caused violence against Americans.

Other members of Congress have proposed legislation that would amend Section 230 in other ways, such as keeping the immunity clause for companies, except for content the company pays for.

‘Eliminate the Digital Divide Act’ would distribute broadband funds to states

Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Joe Manchin, D-W.V., reintroduced the bipartisan Eliminate the Digital Divide Act of 2021, S.922, legislation to fund broadband projects for states.

A House version of the bill was introduced as H.R. 2183 by Reps. Roger Williams, R-Texas, and Jim Cooper, D-Tennessee.

The bill would distribute $10 billion to states for broadband infrastructure, targeted toward unserved areas. It includes a process to deliver funds based on the proportion of those geographic areas, and an additional $1 billion reserved for states with exceptional high-cost areas such as West Virginia.

“Now more than ever, access to reliable broadband services is critical for businesses, learning, healthcare and daily life. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the long-standing issue of reliable internet access across rural America,” said Manchin. “West Virginia has failed to see the benefits of federal programs that often serve the most easily accessible areas. That’s why my bill also includes $1 billion for high-cost areas like West Virginia where the cost to build broadband infrastructure is more expensive due to mountainous terrain and other factors,” he said.

“As we increasingly depend on digital communication to work, learn, and stay connected, we must not leave those without access to broadband in the dark,” Cornyn said. “This bill will help bridge the digital divide and ensure Texans have access to more affordable broadband options across the state. Allowing governors, not bureaucrats in Washington, to direct broadband dollars is crucial to ensuring Texans are connected,” he said.

Several other large broadband funding bills have been introduced recently, including the Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act by Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., that would pour $100 billion funding into broadband projects. It has been incorporated into the Leading Infrastructure for Tomorrow’s America (LIFT) Act, a larger infrastructure package.

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