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Backpage.com executives and the sites ex-owners are sworn in before a Senate hearing. (Cliff Owen / AP)

Tech giants are fighting a new anti-sex trafficking bill in the Senate they say would expose major online platforms and other web businesses to dangerous legal liability.

At issue: The bill would weaken a legal provision — Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act — that shields platforms from liability for any content posted to their platforms by users. The bill would get rid of "federal liability protections for websites that assist, support, or facilitate a violation of federal sex trafficking laws" and empower victims to pursue websites legally, according to bill sponsor Sen. Rob Portman's office.

Why it matters: Tech cares a lot about Section 230 and will fight any attempts to water it down. Without it, their ability to host user-generated content could crumble, along with the accompanying advertising revenue.

What tech says: Companies argued that Section 230's protections built the foundation for the success of major platform companies, like Facebook and Airbnb. The Internet Association, which represents both companies, said the bill "would create a new wave of frivolous and unpredictable actions against legitimate companies rather than addressing underlying criminal behavior" and "jeopardizes bedrock principles of a free and open internet, with serious economic and speech implications well beyond its intended scope."

Other pushback: The bill has some big-name co-sponsors, which could give it momentum. But they'll face opposition from at least some of their colleagues. ""I would be very opposed to something like this that also has done so much to encourage innovation and created literally hundreds of billions of dollars of wealth in the private economy," Sen. Ron Wyden, who helped write Section 230, told Axios as he headed into a weekly lunch meeting.

Go deeper

Updated 7 hours ago - World

Mexican President López Obrador tests positive for coronavirus

Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador during a press conference at National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, on Wednesday. Photo: Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced Sunday evening that he's tested positive for COVID-19.

Driving the news: López Obrador tweeted that he has mild symptoms and is receiving medical treatment. "As always, I am optimistic," he added. "We will all move forward."

7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor of Arkansas

Sarah Huckabee Sanders at FOX News' studios in New York City in 2019. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will announce Monday that she's running for governor of Arkansas.

The big picture: Sanders was touted as a contender after it was announced she was leaving the Trump administration in June 2019. Then-President Trump tweeted he hoped she would run for governor, adding "she would be fantastic." Sanders is "seen as leader in the polls" in the Republican state, notes the Washington Post's Josh Dawsey, who first reported the news.

Coronavirus has inflamed global inequality

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

History will likely remember the pandemic as the "first time since records began that inequality rose in virtually every country on earth at the same time." That's the verdict from Oxfam's inequality report covering the year 2020 — a terrible year that hit the poorest, hardest across the planet.

Why it matters: The world's poorest were already in a race against time, facing down an existential risk in the form of global climate change. The coronavirus pandemic could set global poverty reduction back as much as a full decade, according to the World Bank.