Senators, Academics, And Civil Society Warn Of A Significant Issue With AICOA
Democratic Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) sent a letter urging Senator Amy Klobuchar to address a “significant issue” with the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (S. 2992) as it would “hinder content moderation practices.”
The senators, along with a diverse group of prominent legal experts, professors, and think tanks, are concerned that, as drafted, AICOA “would supercharge harmful content online and make it more difficult to combat.”
This is just the latest in a string of concerns from policymakers on both sides of the aisle that this bill is not ready for a floor vote.
Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA) continues to express concerns about AICOA’s ability to “undermine efforts to combat hate speech and disinformation.” A spokesperson for his office recently said “Senator Padilla is still reviewing the revised bill, but continues to have concerns, including with a provision he’s repeatedly raised that could undermine efforts to combat hate speech and disinformation—which remains unchanged.”
Legal experts, professors, and think tanks have also raised this issue.
Professor Mark Lemley has said that AICOA “may well be interpreted to make tech platforms common carriers, unable to do any content moderation because blocking or downranking terrorists, COVID misinformation, or hate speech would ‘discriminate’ against that content.”
Professors Anupam Chander and Jane Bambauer warn in the Washington Post that AICOA “would hand the makers of services and apps that give free rein to hate speech and disinformation a powerful weapon to use in court: If Apple or Google kicked them out of app stores, or downgraded them in search results, these companies could argue that the decisions weren’t about content moderation at all, but rather market domination.”
Fourteen leading internet law professors wrote a letter to Congress stating that “as currently drafted, the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (AICOA) will lead to more hate speech, more disinformation, and more harassment online. This will especially harm the most vulnerable in society, including minorities, women, and LGBTQ persons.”
Free Press Action noted that AICOA “potentially subjects the largest platforms to lawsuits for removing and reducing the reach of hate speech and other dangerous content.”
Center for Democracy and Technology likewise has said that AICOA “could unduly interfere with the platforms’ responsible efforts to curb hate speech, disinformation, or other abusive content.”