FILE PHOTO: A 3D-printed Facebook logo is seen placed on a keyboard in this illustration taken March 25, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department will propose legislation as soon as Wednesday to try to remove protections that big tech platforms like Alphabet’s (GOOGL.O) Google and Facebook (FB.O) have had for decades, a department official said on Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.
President Donald Trump, who has battled Twitter (TWTR.N) and other tech companies over alleged censorship of conservative voices on social media platforms, said in late May he would propose legislation that may scrap or weaken the law shielding internet companies, in an extraordinary attempt to regulate the outlets where he has been criticized.
Trump wants to “remove or change” a provision of a law known as Section 230 that shields social media companies from liability for content posted by their users.
The Justice Department plans to make a legislative proposal that Congress would have to pass, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the proposal.
Trump had attacked Twitter for tagging his tweets about unsubstantiated claims of fraud about mail-in voting with a warning prompting readers to fact-check the posts.
Carl Szabo, general counsel of NetChoice which counts Google and Facebook among its members, said any such bill would make it harder for companies like Google, which owns YouTube, to moderate content to remove, for example, videos used to recruit terrorists.
“Because this would prevent platforms from removing objectionable content, the House (of Representatives) won’t take it up,” he said.
Also on Wednesday, Senator Josh Hawley joined with three other Republicans to introduce a bill that would allow people to sue tech companies if they feel that their speech has been censored.
Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Andrea Ricci