WASHINGTON — The House voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to approve the National Defense Authorization Act. It now goes to the Senate, but there is pressure on Republican Senators as President Trump stands adamantly against the NDAA if it does not include certain provisions he demands.
What You Need To Know
- The House voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to approve the National Defense Authorization Act
- President Trump said he will veto the bill if it does not include the repeal of Section 230
- Section 230 provides liability protections that allow social media platforms to remove or moderate inappropriate content
- Schruers said the platforms' protection from lawsuits helps enforce a safe online environment while still encouraging free speech
This year, the defense bill is widely supported and has new provisions negotiated by both sides of the aisle like military pay raise, protections for victims of assault in the military, and Confederate base name changes.
Despite that, President Trump said he would veto the bill if it does not include the repeal of Section 230.
Matt Schruers, President of the Computer and Communications Industry Association, explained the federal law provides liability protections that allow social media platforms to remove or moderate inappropriate content.
“This is the provision of federal law that enables digital services to address violent or offensive or extremist content on their websites without the risk that their efforts to stamp out bad actors will lead to litigation,” Schruers said.
Schruers has testified before Congress multiple times about the digital industry. He points to how President Trump’s posts on Twitter and Facebook have been removed or restricted due to violations of their Terms and Conditions, whether the posts are cited as possible misinformation or incitement of violence.
“If you sign up for Twitter, you agree to play by Twitter’s rules,” Schruers said. “If you can’t play by those rules and Twitter disciplines your account, that’s not censorship, that’s holding you accountable to the agreement you made.”
Schruers said the platforms' protection from lawsuits helps enforce a safe online environment while still encouraging free speech.
“If every time digital services take down content, whether it's for spammer or trolls, misinformation, foreign agents, anti-American extremists,” Schruers said. “All of those bad actors would be empowered to sue U.S. companies claiming unfair treatment. We don’t want to open the courthouse doors to foreign actors abroad trying to influence our elections but for Section 230, we would.”
Some Republican lawmakers, like Representative Ted Budd, R-North Carolina, disagree.
“My main concern here is what President Trump’s main concern is here and that is that big tech has silenced conservative voices for too long,” Senator Budd said. “They’re picking and choosing what we get to see.”
President Trump called Section 230 a "national security" issue and vowed in a tweet that “if the very dangerous & unfair Section 230 is not completely terminated as part of the (NDAA), I will be forced to unequivocally VETO the Bill.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he plans to bring the NDAA up for a vote in the Senate. If the president ultimately vetoes the bill, lawmakers have the choice to come back to the hill as late as Christmas week to vote again and overturn the Presidential veto with a two-thirds majority in both chambers.