Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with the Axios AM and PM newsletters. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to the Axios Closer newsletter for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios Pro Rata

Dive into the world of dealmakers across VC, PE and M&A with Axios Pro Rata. Delivered daily to your inbox by Dan Primack and Kia Kokalitcheva.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with the Axios Sports newsletter. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Des Moines newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Tampa Bay newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Austin news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Austin newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Atlanta news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Atlanta newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Philadelphia news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Philadelphia newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Chicago news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Chicago newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top DC news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios DC newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Trump administration is turning up the heat on one of Big Tech's most important legal protections, as the Justice Department convenes a debate over changing a law that protects platforms from suits over content their users post.

Why it matters: The threat to remove immunity granted by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is one of a handful of weapons that Washington is mulling using against Facebook, Google, and other tech giants. Trump administration enthusiasm for revoking or revising the protection could give such proposals a boost in Congress.

Driving the news: The DOJ is convening policy experts for a workshop Wednesday titled “Section 230 — Nurturing Innovation or Fostering Unaccountability?"

  • The event features a public morning session focused on whether the law "encourages or discourages" platforms to address online harms like child exploitation.
  • A private session in the afternoon will examine content moderation, free speech, online conduct and illicit activity, according to a person familiar with the event.
  • Speakers invited to the cl0sed-door portion include Internet Association deputy counsel Elizabeth Banker, former 21st Century Fox lobbyist Rick Lane and former Facebook chief security officer Alex Stamos, according to a list obtained by Axios.

The big picture: Republicans and Democrats in Congress frustrated with how tech companies handle content moderation have been debating changes to 230 to address a range of issues, including child exploitation.

  • Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham is working on draft legislation that would require tech companies to "earn" 230 protections by following best practices for fighting child exploitation, with the Justice Department in a key role to determine those guidelines.
  • "Many companies are not adequately incentivized to be proactive about moderating, do not use best practices, and sometimes act recklessly to the harm suffered by children on their sites," said Yiota Souras, general counsel for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, who will speak at the workshop.

Yes, but: Supporters of Section 230 have questioned the motives of the DOJ and proponents of changing the law, including critics from some industries that have clashed with tech — including many in the news media.

  • The threat to remove Section 230 protection is being used as a lever by competitors like media companies that want tech platforms to share ad revenue — and also by law enforcement agencies, who want the platforms to build encryption backdoors, said Neil Chilson, a senior research fellow at the Charles Koch Institute, another workshop speaker.

Of note: Attorney General William Barr has been campaigning for tech platforms to build back doors into their encryption systems so that law enforcement can better monitor communications while investigating child exploitation and terrorism, and some critics say he is using the Section 230 debate as a pressure tactic.

  • "Granting broad immunity to platforms that take no efforts to mitigate unlawful behavior or, worse, that purposefully blind themselves — and law enforcers — to illegal conduct occurring on, or facilitated by, the online spaces they create, is not consistent with" the law's intent," Barr said in a December speech.

The other side: Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a co-author of Section 230, sees the move to change the law as a blow against free speech being promoted by "big legacy companies," as he wrote in the Washington Post.

"Under the guise of getting rid of lies and protecting children, they’re working with the Trump administration and top Republicans to undermine Americans' rights and give the government unprecedented control over online speech."
— Sen. Ron Wyden

Flashback: Section 230 was enacted in 1996 as part of a broader online regulation law that was eventually overturned by the Supreme Court, leaving the liability shield as the only remnant still in force.

  • An earlier court decision had left a muddy precedent suggesting that the only way online service providers could protect themselves legally was to not moderate their content at all.
  • 230's authors wanted to make it clear that online services could actively police their users' content without assuming liability for it.

For the record: Then and now, Section 230 protects platforms from civil suits over user content, but not from criminal prosecution for content that breaks federal law.

Go deeper

Updated 7 mins ago - World

Biden cleans up comments about Russia invading Ukraine

Photo: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

President Biden sought to clarify his suggestion that a "minor incursion" by Russia into Ukraine may not draw the same response as a large invasion, telling reporters Thursday that "Russia will pay a heavy price" if any troops cross the border.

Why it matters: Some officials in Kyiv saw Biden's comments as inviting Russian aggression.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
20 mins ago - Health

Study finds bias against Black patients written into medical charts

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Black patients were more than two-and-a-half times as likely as white patients to have negative descriptors about them in their electronic health record, according to a study published Wednesday in Health Affairs.

Why it matters: The study is further evidence of bias in the U.S. health care system, which can ultimately result in worse care and disparately poor outcomes.

Jan. 6 panel asks Ivanka Trump to cooperate with investigation

Former President Trump and daughter Ivanka Trump walk to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on January 4, 2020 in Washington, DC. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot sent a letter Thursday to Ivanka Trump requesting her cooperation with the investigation.

Driving the news: "We write to request your voluntary cooperation with our investigation on a range of critical topics," the chair wrote in a letter to the former president's daughter.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!