November 21, 2019

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TRUMP DEALS INCLUDE LEGAL PROTECTIONS FOR BIG TECH CENSORSHIP

Oct 21, 2019 | , , ,

By The Hill

Bipartisan lawmakers on the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday hit the Trump administration for including language from legal liability protections for internet companies in trade negotiations.

The protections from Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which gives platforms legal immunity for content posted by third-party users while also giving them legal cover to take good-faith efforts to moderate their platforms, have been included in some way in both the U.S-Mexico-Canada trade agreement and pact with Japan signed earlier this month.

“I want to talk a bit about injecting 230 intro trade agreements,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said during a hearing Wednesday. “It seems to me that we’ve already seen that now in the Japan trade agreement and there is a real push to include that now in the [USMCA]. There is no place for that.”

“I think that laws in these other countries don’t really accommodate what the United States has done about 230 … it is just inappropriate right now to insert this liability protection into trade agreements, and as a member of the working group that is helping to negotiate that agreement, I am pushing hard to make sure that it just isn’t there,” she added.

Committee chairman Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) said he was “disappointed” U.S. trade representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer refused to participate in Wednesday’s hearing.

“Ranking Member Walden and I wrote to the Ambassador in August raising concerns about why the USTR has included this language in trade deals as we debate them across the nation, and I was hoping to hear his perspective on why he believes that is appropriate,” Pallone said.

“Including provisions in trade agreements that are controversial to both Republicans and Democrats is not the way to get support from Congress. Hopefully, Ambassador Lighthizer will be more responsive to bipartisan requests in the future.”

The Hill has reached out to Lighthizer’s office for comment on his refusal to participate in the hearing.

Ranking member Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) said that Lighthizer should “consult our committee in advance of negotiating” on internet policy in trade discussions.

“The USTR does not appear to be reflecting the scrutiny the Administration itself is applying to how CDA 230 is being utilized in American society, making it even more alarming for the USTR to be exporting such policies without the involvement of this committee,” he added.

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