ICYMI: JCPA Markup Highlights Same Content Moderation Concerns As AICOA
On September 8, the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA) was held over amid concerns over the bill’s impact on content moderation.
The same content moderation concerns in the JCPA are also present in the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (AICOA) and experts from Free Press, TechFreedom, and Taxpayers Protection Alliance have all noted the contradictory view and goals of Democratic and Republican lawmakers with respect to the bills’ impact on content moderation. Springboard has also previously noted lawmakers had similar conflicts around AICOA.
Here’s what you need to know:
1) Both bills would undermine platforms’ legal protections for content moderation:
— “The JCPA would directly affect current content moderation practices by inhibiting platforms’ ability to take down dangerous information and protect their users,” writes CCIA’s Matt Schruers in a recent letter. “Although objective journalism is critical to informing users, policymakers should be careful not to interfere with platforms’ ability to engage in First Amendment-protected editorial discretion and not to curtail the platforms’ own important guidelines and policies in this area.”
— Similarly, AICOA “potentially subjects the largest platforms to lawsuits for removing and reducing the reach of hate speech and other dangerous content,” according to Matt Wood, Vice President of Policy and General Counsel at Free Press Action.
2) Both bills could “supercharge” harmful content online:
— Fifteen legal scholars, along with TechFreedom, warned that the JCPA “will be weaponized against moderation of hate speech, misinformation, and various other forms of online content that are corroding our democracy.”
— They also urged the Senators “to hold further hearings on how [the JCPA] will affect content moderation before taking any further action on it.”
— This echoes concerns about how AICOA “would supercharge harmful content online and make it more difficult [for platforms] to combat,” as a group of Democratic Senators wrote in a letter calling for the sponsors of AICOA to address the “significant issue.”
3) Both bills’ non-discrimination provisions would force platforms to carry harmful content:
— “The JCPA would prevent any covered platform from ‘discriminating’ against a publisher’s content based on its views, forcing platforms to carry all speech if the publisher is part of a covered cartel. Theoretically, this could force a platform to leave up hateful or harmful content,” writes Joshua Levine of American Action Forum.
— Platforms could be forced to carry digital journalism “regardless of how extreme,” under the JCPA, explain legal experts, public interest, consumer advocacy and civil society groups in a coalition letter. “New language [in the JCPA] forces platforms to negotiate for payments and to carry the content of any digital journalism provider that qualifies to be part of a joint negotiation, regardless of how extreme their content.”
— Similarly, the current draft of AICOA “will lead to more hate speech, more disinformation, and more harassment online,” particularly harming “the most vulnerable in society, including minorities, women, and LGBTQ persons,” 14 internet legal scholars warn in an open letter to Congress.
— In fact, 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,” writes Stanford Law Professor Mark Lemley.