President Trump’s war with Twitter and Facebook is spilling out onto a new stage.
The U.S. Department of Justice, led by Attorney General William Barr, has released a proposal on Wednesday (June 17) that would rescind legal protections that have shielded such internet platforms from lawsuits, an administration source told The Wall Street Journal.
The proposal would amend the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which says social networking sites are not liable for content posted by users, except in rare circumstances.
If approved by Congress, the measure would make these sites vulnerable to civil liability for violations of federal criminal law that occur on their sites.
In addition, the changes sought by the Trump administration would prevent platforms from removing content without an explanation and hold them responsible for third-party content.
In one example, the department would remove from federal law a provision that allows platforms to delete content that they deem to be “objectionable.”
This is not the first time, Trump has tried to change the rules that would hit these companies in their pocketbooks. Last month, Trump signed an executive order to limit legal protections for internet platforms that unfairly censor users’ speech.
The order is challenged in federal court by an online-rights group and is pending.
Twitter and Facebook have said they oppose such measures.
In May, Twitter said removing the protections would threaten the future of online speech and Internet freedoms while Facebook insists cutting platform immunity would restrict more speech online by exposing companies to potential liability for everything that billions of people around the world have to say, the report said.
In January, the DOJ worked to organize a workshop to review a federal law that predominantly releases websites from legal culpability for anything their users post on their platforms.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have recommended that Congress revise the federal law so that tech firms can be held liable and sued more frequently.