Feb 25, 2020 - Technology

House Democrat takes aim at tech liability shield over false ads

Rep. David Cicilline. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call Inc. via Getty Images

The chair of the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee is preparing a bill that would remove liability protections from tech platforms that don't take down false political ads, Bloomberg Law reported Monday.

The big picture: Facebook's policy of not fact-checking political ads has angered Democrats, and tinkering with Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which immunizes internet platforms from lawsuits over user-posted material, has become an increasingly popular threat for lawmakers looking to bring Big Tech to heel.

Context: Antitrust panel chairman David Cicilline (D-R.I.) has already been scrutinizing major tech companies through a probe he's leading into competition in the sector.

What's next: Cicilline plans to introduce the bill within roughly the next month, according to the report.

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Coronavirus will delay lawmakers' tech antitrust investigation

Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.). Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images.

The spread of the coronavirus will delay a House antitrust investigation into Big Tech and online markets, the Democrat leading the probe said Thursday.

Driving the news: Rep. David Cicilline, who chairs the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, said the public health crisis will push back a bipartisan report detailing the investigation's findings, originally set for release at the end of this month.

Tech's antitrust probes push on in face of pandemic

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Big Tech companies, like other U.S. institutions, have donned a mantle of public service by mobilizing to help combat the coronavirus epidemic — but they still have big antitrust targets on their back.

The big picture: Federal and state enforcers and Washington lawmakers are all investigating potential anticompetitive practices by tech giants like Google and Facebook. The pandemic has complicated the timelines of these probes, but hasn't knocked them off their tracks.

Report urges alternative to tampering with tech's liability shield

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A new report out Tuesday from a non-profit focused on online free expression is calling on federal lawmakers to mandate more transparency from tech companies rather than weakening the industry's liability shield.

Why it matters: Internet platforms could embrace policies like transparency requirements as a far more palatable alternative to eroding their immunity from lawsuits over user-posted content, which they say is vital to their existence.