Trump Vetoes $740bn Defense Bill Over Section 230

US President Donald Trump’s fight against social networking firms shows no signs of slowing, as he readies to leave the White House.

President Trump had threatened earlier this month to veto a major bill for the US Defence sector, because of liability protections for tech firms.

And this week he followed through and vetoed the National Defense Authorization Act, because the US Congress (controlled by the Democrats), did not remove the Federal law known as Section 230, that protects social networking firms such as Facebook and Twitter, against liability over content posted by users.

Defence Veto

It should be noted that the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is a crucial piece of annual legislation in the United States, that covers authorisation for pay raises and other spending needs for America’s military.

In July President Trump has also threatened to veto the NDAA because it included language renaming US military installations honouring Confederate generals.

The Internet Association, which includes Facebook, Amazon, Alphabet Google and Twitter, earlier this month had hit out at President Trump’s veto threat.

But as the NDAA did not repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, Trump this week opted to veto the $740 billion bill.

But it is reported that US lawmakers will return to Capitol Hill on Monday for a vote to override the president’s veto.

“Section 230 facilitates the spread of foreign disinformation online, which is a serious threat to our national security,” Trump reportedly said in a statement Wednesday. “It must be repealed.”

Section 230

It should be noted that the Section 230 legislation was defended by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and Alphabet/Google CEO Sundar Pichai when they appeared before a US Senate panel in October.

The US Senate Commerce Committee had subpoenaed tech CEOs about reforms of Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which offers tech companies protection from liability over content posted by users.

Essentially it stops tech firms from being liable for the content and opinions expressed online by its users.

Matters came to head earlier this year when President Trump publicly clashed with Twitter, after it began applying a fact-checking warning to the President’s tweets for the first time, as part of its new policy on misleading information.

When Twitter refused to back down, President Trump signed an executive order against social networking firms.

Trump essentially sought to “remove or change” section 230.

Section 230 protections have been criticised in the past by other lawmakers on both sides of the US political spectrum, who feel that it gives social networking firms a free pass on things like hate speech and content that supports terrorism.

The Justice Department is still formulating proposed changes to the legislation.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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