Trump reiterates he’ll veto defense spending bill over protections for leftist Big Tech
December 17, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – President Donald Trump confirmed Thursday that he intends to veto the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) over Congress’s refusal to include language repealing a controversial liability shield for social media companies which, critics say, have used their protected status to discriminate against conservative speech with impunity.
“I will Veto the Defense Bill, which will make China very unhappy. They love it,” Trump tweeted Thursday. “Must have Section 230 termination, protect our National Monuments and allow for removal of military from far away, and very unappreciative, lands. Thank you!”
I will Veto the Defense Bill, which will make China very unhappy. They love it. Must have Section 230 termination, protect our National Monuments and allow for removal of military from far away, and very unappreciative, lands. Thank you! https://t.co/9rI08S5ofO— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 17, 2020
Congress renews the NDAA every year, accounting for $740 billion of defense funding. For several weeks, Trump has threatened not to sign it this year unless lawmakers add a provision repealing Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act, which immunizes websites from being held liable for the third-party content they host, such as posts, tweets, or videos uploaded by their users.
This provision has been credited with helping the internet thrive, but has grown controversial in recent years as the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have grown bolder in exercising editorial judgment over which content to restrict and what to flag as “hateful,” “harmful,” or “misinformation.” That trend has led to growing calls y conservatives to either amend, reinterpret, or repeal Section 230.
Trump has firmly landed on full repeal as the answer, motivated in part by Twitter restricting scores of his tweets alleging major fraud in the presidential election, including “fact-checking” disclaimers and limits on users’ ability to like, reply to, or share them.
In October, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas suggested that the real problem may be how courts have reinterpreted Section 230 since its adoption in 1996.
“Section 230(c)(1) protects a company from publisher liability only when content is ‘provided by another information content provider.’ Nowhere does this provision protect a company that is itself the information content provider,” Thomas wrote. “But from the beginning, courts have held that §230(c)(1) protects the ‘exercise of a publisher’s traditional editorial functions—such as deciding whether to publish, withdraw, postpone or alter content.”
“Under this interpretation, a company can solicit thousands of potentially defamatory statements, ‘selec[t] and edi[t] . . . for publication’ several of those statements, add commentary, and then feature the final product prominently over other submissions—all while enjoying immunity,” he continued. “[B]y construing §230(c)(1) to protect any decision to edit or remove content...courts have curtailed the limits Congress placed on decisions to remove content.”