President Donald Trump has long railed against alleged censorship of conservative voices by social media companies — and now, he’s taking the nuclear option in an effort to combat what he sees as partisan bias from Big Tech.
Calling Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act a “serious threat to our national security [and] election integrity,” Trump said Tuesday that he would veto a vital defense spending bill unless lawmakers use it to eliminate the measure, which protects companies like Facebook and Twitter from being hit with lawsuits over what users post on their platforms, the Washington Examiner reported.
According to the Associated Press, the 26-word section of the 1996 law “provides a legal ‘safe harbor’ for internet companies” that publishers don’t enjoy.
“Our country can never be safe”
It remains unclear what prompted Trump’s latest tirade against Section 230, but he made clear in a series of tweets Tuesday that he’d even go as far as to block the passing of the crucial National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) over it.
“Section 230, which is a liability shielding gift from the U.S. to ‘Big Tech’…is a serious threat to our National Security & Election Integrity,” Trump wrote, as the Examiner reported. “Our Country can never be safe & secure if we allow it to stand.”
…..Therefore, if the very dangerous & unfair Section 230 is not completely terminated as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), I will be forced to unequivocally VETO the Bill when sent to the very beautiful Resolute desk. Take back America NOW. Thank you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 2, 2020
“It’s a long shot”
But despite opposition from Trump and others on both sides of the political aisle to Section 230, there appears to be little appetite in Congress for a full repeal of the provision, according to Axios.
The outlet reports that Senate Republicans want to reform Section 230 in such a way that limits “bias against conservatives,” and Democrats want social media apps and other tech platforms to be held responsible for the dissemination of misinformation.
With this in mind, Republican Sen. Roger Wicker (MS) suggested that his own Online Freedom and Viewpoint Diversity Act be inserted into the NDAA.
But as Axios reported Tuesday, “It’s a long shot, for political and logistical reasons.”
That doesn’t mean Trump isn’t keeping up the pressure in the meantime, though. The president tweeted Thursday morning:
Looks like certain Republican Senators are getting cold feet with respect to the termination of Big Tech’s Section 230, a National Security and Election Integrity MUST. For years, all talk, no action. Termination must be put in Defense Bill!!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 3, 2020