Trump says he’ll veto defense bill unless Section 230 is terminated

Big Tech headed toward ‘major overhaul’ of Section 230: Sen. Mike Lee

Utah Sen. Mike Lee argues Big Tech now heading for overhaul amid censorship allegations.

President Trump tweeted late Tuesday that he will veto the National Defense Authorization Act unless Congress repeals Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which critics say unfairly shields social media platforms from liability over items posted on their platforms.

These opponents have been vocal that tech behemoths like Twitter and Facebook should no longer be shielded as a neutral platform when they operate more like a publisher.

The criticism seemed to reach its tipping point during the Hunter Biden scandal in the weeks prior to the presidential election.

The New York Post ran an explosive report that purported to show emails from Hunter Biden that linked his father to his Ukraine business dealings.

Republican Sens. Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham and Josh Hawley called on the heads of Twitter and Facebook at the time to testify. 

“This is election interference and we're 19 days out from an election,” Cruz, R-Texas, said. “It has no precedent in the history of democracy. The Senate Judiciary Committee wants to know what the hell is going on.”

Trump, who has refused to concede the election and has a legal team investigating allegations of widespread voter fraud, has maintained a fraught relationship with these companies, despite attracting 88 million followers on his Twitter handle.

“Section 230, which is a liability shielding gift from the U.S. to “Big Tech” (the only companies in America that have it—corporate welfare!), is a serious threat to our National Security & Election Integrity. Our Country can never be safe & secure if we allow it to stand,” Trump tweeted. “Therefore, if the very dangerous & unfair Section 230 is not completely terminated as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), I will be forced to unequivocally VETO the Bill when sent to the very beautiful Resolute desk. Take back America NOW. Thank you!”

Facebook and Twitter did not immediately respond to an email from Fox News.

The Department of Justice sent a letter to Congress in October that advocated for changes to the 25-year-old law that essentially protects these companies from being sued by content posted on their sites.

The DOJ’s letter, which was addressed to several congressional leaders, read, “Today’s large online platforms hold tremendous power over the information and views available to the American people. It is therefore critical that they be honest and transparent with users about how they use that power.”

Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey, the CEOs of Facebook, respectively, talked about the law in front of the Senate Commerce Committee in October.

"Section 230 is the most important law protecting internet speech. In removing Section 230, we will remove speech from the internet," Dorsey said during his testimony.

Zuckerberg suggested that Congress “updates the law to make sure it is working as intended.”

"One important place to start would be making content moderation systems more transparent," he said. "Another would be to separate good actors from bad actors by making sure that companies can't hide behind section 230 to avoid responsibility for intentionally facilitating illegal activity on their platforms. We are open to working with Congress on these ideas and more," he said.

Fox News' Tyler Olson and Marisa Schultz contributed to this report

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