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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

Mike Allen, author of AM
5 mins ago - Economy & Business

America on borrowed time

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Economic recovery will not be linear as the world continues to grapple with the uncertainty of the pandemic.

Why it matters: Despite being propped up by an extraordinary amount of fiscal stimulus and support from central banks, the state of the global economy remains fragile.

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 13 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.