Dec 5, 2019

Pelosi's push to remove Big Tech protections in USMCA

Photo: Juan Carlos Lucas/NurPhoto via Getty Images

"House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is pushing to strip out sweeping legal protections for online content in the new trade pact with Mexico and Canada, in what would be a blow for big technology companies," the Wall Street Journal reports.

The big picture: There is ongoing debate over exporting the all-important Section 230 provision of the 1996 Communications Decency Act — which protects Facebook, Google and other platforms from legal responsibility for harmful content that its users post — across North America in a trade agreement.

  • The current iteration of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) would uphold Section 230, but Pelosi and other lawmakers say it would be "inappropriate" for the U.S. to export such a law while the policy is still under review domestically in Congress.
  • Big Tech firms wanted the language included in the agreement, creating a "broad umbrella of legal protection" throughout the continent.

What's next: "There is no guarantee that Mrs. Pelosi and like-minded lawmakers will be successful," but if they are, it could preview another political front in the ongoing techlash.

Go deeper: A new attack on social media's immunity

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Tech's liability shield becomes trade-deal flashpoint

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

New opposition from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week left the tech industry at risk of losing a cherished trade deal provision that could help cement its liability shield.

Driving the news: Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects online platforms from liability for content their users post, and Pelosi cited the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement's extension of its principles to U.S. trade partners as a sticking point for getting the trade deal through Congress.

Go deeperArrowDec 6, 2019

Pelosi loses push to strip tech liability shield from USMCA

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi discusses the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement at a Dec. 10 news conference on Capitol Hill. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

A Tuesday compromise to finalize the new North American trade agreement includes provisions extending the U.S.'s liability shield for online platforms to Mexico and Canada, despite House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's objections.

Driving the news: Pelosi said her "one disappointment" in the deal House Democrats and the White House reached Tuesday on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement is the inclusion of language similar to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. That measure protects tech companies against lawsuits over user-posted material.

Go deeperArrowDec 10, 2019

House Democrats say they'll back USMCA

Richard Neal and Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) announced Tuesday that House Democrats plan to back the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

Why it matters: Completing the trade deal, designed to replace NAFTA, is one of President Trump's biggest policy goals for 2019. Democrats' decision to back it — despite unveiling articles of impeachment against the president only an hour prior — highlights how they want something to bring home to their constituents ahead of 2020 as well.

Go deeperArrowDec 10, 2019