House Democrats on Thursday announced new legislation removing legal liability protection for popular tech platforms that use an algorithm to recommend content that could contribute to real harm.
That Law of Justice Against Malicious Algorithms would limit liability protection for platforms that knowingly or recklessly came up with a recommendation of third-party information, according to a draft law shared by lawmakers.
“The time for self-regulation is over, and this bill holds them accountable,” said House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Frank Pallone, the New Jersey Democrat. “Designing personal algorithms that promote extremism, misinformation and harmful content is a conscious choice, and platforms should be responsible for it.”
He said social media platforms put profits over people and he believes the country is paying the price.
The bill would amend section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which generally gives website platforms immunity from litigation over third-party content.
Democratic co-sponsors of the bill-Mr. Pallone, Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania, Anna Eshoo of California and Jan Schakowsky of Illinois-said the legislation will be introduced Friday.
The bill also includes exceptions for small businesses that are defined by the technology platform or the popularity of social media companies rather than the number of employees or financial data such as annual revenue figures. In particular, the exception applies to small businesses for interactive computer services with “5,000,000 or fewer unique monthly visitors or users for no less than 3 of the previous 12 months.”
Popular social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter pronounce monthly active users well above the exception. Facebook said in July that the company averaged 2.9 billion monthly active users per year. June 30, 2021, and Twitter said in July that it averaged 206 million daily active users.
Several of the co-sponsors explicitly mentioned Facebook as a target for the legislation.
The forthcoming bill is not the only planned legislation that would crack down on technology. Sens. Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota Democrat, and Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican, are set to introduce legislation to prevent major technology platforms like Amazon and Google from favoring their own services in search results on their platforms.
“When dominant technology companies exclude rivals and kill competition, it hurts small businesses and can increase costs for you,” Ms Klobuchar said on Twitter. “My new two-party legislation with @ChuckGrassley will establish new road rules to prevent large companies from excluding their smaller competitors.”
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