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Sen Josh Hawley's Bill A Potential Blow To Tech Majors?

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Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) is introducing a Bill in the Senate, which aims to make big tech companies accountable for political neutrality in their online content.

The Bill makes it imperative for the companies to possess the Federal Trade Commission's "politically neutral" certification to claim immunity from potential legal disputes over content posted to their websites.

As per an amendment proposed by Miller to the Communications Decency Act (CDA), the immunity big tech companies receive under Section 230 will be removed unless they submit to an external audit that proves beyond doubt that their algorithms and content-removal practices are politically neutral.

The legislation does not apply to small and medium-sized tech companies, but will make tech giants like Twitter, Google, and Facebook accountable.

"With Section 230, tech companies get a sweetheart deal that no other industry enjoys: complete exemption from traditional publisher liability in exchange for providing a forum free of political censorship," Senator Josh Hawley said in a statement.

The GOP Senator said there is a growing list of evidence that shows big tech companies making editorial decisions to censor viewpoints they disagree with. He alleged that the entire process is shrouded in secrecy because these companies refuse to make their protocols public.

The proposed legislation states that if the tech giants want to keep their government-granted immunity, they must bring transparency and accountability to their editorial processes and prove that they don't discriminate.

The bill applies only to companies with more than 30 million active monthly users in the U.S., more than 300 million active monthly users worldwide, or who have more than $500 million in global annual revenue.

The Communications Decency Act protects companies from liability for illegal content posted by third parties.

Congress had passed this law in 1996 in the early stages of Internet, and it was concerned that subjecting hosting platforms to the same civil liability as all other businesses would curtail their growth.

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