Jul 21, 2020 - Technology

Lawmakers plot another Section 230 hearing

A photo of the U.S. Capitol Dome in front of a clear sky.

Photo: Eva Hambach/AFP via Getty Images

A Senate Commerce subcommittee has teed up a hearing next week on Silicon Valley's prized liability shield, slated to take place the day after Big Tech CEOs face a grilling from a House panel.

Why it matters: Lawmakers on other congressional panels, including the Senate Judiciary Committee, are already eyeing legislation to chip away at Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Attention from multiple committees raises the odds that such a law could pass before the year's end.

Driving the news: The hearing, set for July 28, will center on the PACT Act from Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), leaders of the Senate Commerce communications, technology, innovation and the internet subcommittee, which will hold the session.

  • The PACT Act would, among other things, update Section 230 by requiring tech platforms to be more transparent about the decisions that go into their moderation practices.
  • Planned witnesses include Jeff Kosseff, a cybersecurity professor at the Naval Academy who wrote a book on Section 230, and Elizabeth Banker, deputy general counsel for tech trade group the Internet Association, the panel said.

Flashback: Only one Section 230 bill has made it through Congress: the anti-sex trafficking package known as FOSTA-SESTA that was signed into law in 2018.

Yes, but: Section 230 is under more scrutiny than ever, with voices on both the right and left calling for changes and the Trump administration raising the threat of repeal when technology companies remove content in a way it doesn't like.

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