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Republican senators propose bill that erodes Safe Harbour protections for online platforms

US Senate

Three Republican members of the US Senate have introduced a new bill that proposes major changes to the country's law that protects digital platforms from bearing liability for content posted by their users. The proposed Online Freedom and Viewpoint Diversity Act would take away protections from liability, that is, Safe Harbour, which is currently given to intermediaries under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The new bill removed the companies' right to remove "otherwise objectionable" content, thereby severely limiting the type of content they can take action against. What is Section 230, and why is it important? Section 230 is a provision in the Communications Decency Act of 1996. It protects companies operating on the internet from liability for any content their users may post. For instance, if a user posts hate speech on a social media platform like Facebook, it is the user, and not Facebook, who can be subjected to legal action. It basically ensures that the companies are not treated as publishers of this content. The protections offered by Section 230 also allowed companies to freely moderate content users posted on their platforms. It allowed platforms to impose their own community standards on users, and remove content that may not abide by these standards. Over more than two decades, this arrangement contributed to the development of massive social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, allowing them to grow without worrying about legal action for their users' conduct. What will the new proposed bill do…

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