A new bill would open up platforms like YouTube and Facebook to lawsuits about content they host, unless federal regulators certified that their moderation of content was not "biased against a political party, political candidate, or political viewpoint."

Why it matters: This would be the most ambitious effort yet to limit platforms' longstanding protection from liability for user content they host (in 2017, Congress allowed lawsuits over sex trafficking). It also represents an escalation by conservatives who have claimed, with only anecdotal evidence, that Silicon Valley companies are suppressing their views.

The details:

  • The Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act, introduced by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), would strip large web companies of the immunity against lawsuits they are automatically granted under Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act.
  • They would continue to be immune from legal liability, but only if the Federal Trade Commission verified they were moderating content in a way that was politically neutral.
  • That certification would only last for two years, but could be renewed. The law would only apply to companies over a certain threshold of monthly active users or revenues — smaller firms will remain immune.

Yes, but: Claims of systemic, intentional liberal bias at online platforms manifesting itself in their products have never been backed up by research or deep reporting.

  • Any attempt to change Section 230, seen as a foundational aspect of the internet economy, will be met with stiff pushback from major tech companies and their allies.
  • "Lawmakers should reject this legislation," said Billy Easley in a statement from Americans for Prosperity, where he is a policy analyst. The organization, an arm of the Koch political network, has resisted calls to harshly regulate tech firms.

Go deeper: A new attack on social platforms' immunity under Section 230

Go deeper

Boycott organizers slam Facebook following tense virtual meeting

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Civil rights leaders blasted Facebook's top executives shortly after speaking with them on Tuesday, saying that the tech giant's leaders "failed to meet the moment" and were "more interested in having a dialogue than producing outcomes."

Why it matters: The likely fallout from the meeting is that the growing boycott of Facebook's advertising platform, which has reached nearly 1000 companies in less than a month, will extend longer than previously anticipated, deepening Facebook's public relations nightmare.

Steve Scalise PAC invites donors to fundraiser at Disney World

Photo: Kevin Lamarque-Pool/Getty Images

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise’s PAC is inviting lobbyists to attend a four-day “Summer Meeting” at Disney World's Polynesian Village in Florida, all but daring donors to swallow their concern about coronavirus and contribute $10,000 to his leadership PAC.

Why it matters: Scalise appears to be the first House lawmakers to host an in-person destination fundraiser since the severity of pandemic became clear. The invite for the “Summer Meeting” for the Scalise Leadership Fund, obtained by Axios, makes no mention of COVID-19.

The coronavirus is ushering in a new era of surveillance at work

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As companies continue to prepare for the return of their employees to the workplace, they're weighing new types of surveillance in the name of safety.

Why it matters: Just as the coronavirus pandemic has acted as an accelerant for the adoption of remote work, it has also normalized increased surveillance and data collection. In the post-pandemic workplace, our bosses will know a lot more about us than they used to.