By Mike Masnick
This was rumored a week and a half ago, and at the time I stated that there was no way in hell it was happening, and that it was all just performative nonsense… but yesterday Axios reported that the White House is still pushing Congress to insert a total repeal of Section 230 into the “must pass” National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). At the time, the story was that Trump would make a trade: he wouldn’t veto the bill over a provision that removed Confederate army names from US military bases if there was a full repeal of Section 230 in it.
This is silly for all sorts of reasons, including the idea that you’re horse trading the law that helped create the open internet for racist military base names in a bill that has fuck all to do with internet/telecom policy. Of course, then Thanksgiving happened, and the President threw a total shitfit because #DiaperDon started trending on Twitter, making him declare that we had to repeal Section 230 for “national security.” Seems more like it would be for dealing with the insecurity of the President of the United States.
And so it appears that the White House has decided to appease the whims of the mad child emperor, and is still pushing Congress to slip the repeal into the NDAA and hoping that the confused, misplaced, and somewhat contradictory bipartisan hatred for Section 230 will cause them to go with it. Incredibly, Axios notes that it’s the Republicans in the Senate trying to talk the White House out of this plan — though they’re pushing a bunch of nonsense 230 reform bills as an “alternative.” The article’s only comment on Democrats is that they “are sure to object.” And I think that will still doom this entire effort. But, the real goal seems to be to try to sneak through some terrible bills that are short of a full repeal.
But Senate Republicans are instead trying to negotiate an alternative that would combine multiple bills aimed at reforming the law, including the bipartisan Platform Accountability and Consumer Transparency Act and Wicker’s Online Freedom and Viewpoint Diversity Act, a Hill source familiar with the matter told Axios.
We’ve gone through the details of why all of those bills are garbage and/or unconstitutional, and even if there were legitimate movement on getting those bills through Congress, lighting up the NDAA with them is the exact wrong thing to do. Bills like these, that would fundamentally change the very nature of the internet, are not something you just hang on an appropriations bill at the last minute.
I’m still mostly confident that none of this is actually going to happen and that it’s still all just insane posturing and performative nonsense. But it’s still 2020, and crazy, unprecedented shit still keeps happening, so I’ll back down slightly from my “no way in hell” statement, and note that we’re in hell right now, and so there’s still a small chance that something horrific would happen here. It’s still very, very unlikely. But it’s just not going away.