ILLINOIS (IRN) — Illinois’ Congressional delegation told representatives from Google, Reddit and other tech giants to better police their sites, or the government would be forced to step in.
The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee hosted the tech companies in a discussion over whether or not they should still have the legal immunity from lawsuits regarding content posted by others.
The provision at issue is Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996.
U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, the Chicago Democrat who arranged the hearing, said the initial rule was meant to encourage free speech, but has since become much more.
“Extremism, hate speech, election interference, and other problematic content is proliferating,” she said.
U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly accused some companies of using the immunity as an excuse for inaction.
“The intended purpose of Section 230 was to allow companies to moderate content under the good Samaritan provision, and yet, this law seems to be widely misapplied,” she said.
Retiring southern Illinois Republican John Shimkus warned the companies that not doing enough to police their users will result in “the heavy hand of government” regulating them further.
“I would encourage the industry and those who are listening to move in that direction on their own before we do it for them,” he said.
U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger says his name has been used to swindle military veterans. In one case, he says a woman used her life savings to fly from India because someone convinced her that she was in a year-long relationship with the representative.
“It’s clearly not enough and the status quo is unacceptable,” the Channahon Republican said.
Tech company representatives assured committee members that they were working to improve policing, but catching everything is likely impossible due to the sheer amount of content uploaded to sites like Reddit and Google’s various platforms every day.
Chairman Mike Doyle, a Pennsylvania Democrat, pointed out the fundamental value Section 230 has had on American interaction on the Internet.
“Section 230 doesn’t just protect the largest platforms or the most fringe websites. It enables comment sections on individual blogs, people to leave honest and open reviews, and free and open discussion about controversial topics,” he said. “The kind of ecosystem that has been enabled by more online discussions has enriched our lives and our Democracy. The ability of individuals to have voices heard, particularly marginalized communities cannot be understated.”