October 28, 2020
The focus of today's Big Tech hearing on Capitol Hill was Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects internet platforms from lawsuits over the removal or restriction of content. Barbara Comstock, a senior adviser at legal and lobbying firm Baker Donelson and former GOP congresswoman from Virginia, said the government is in over its head in the fight against the power of Silicon Valley.
"Those companies all have approval ratings that are in the 70 and 80 and 90 percent, and the thing that isn't working, Congress, has an 18 percent approval rating. So I would hope they keep their hands off of this," Comstock told Cheddar.
With voting already underway in many states, both Democrats and Republicans spent time accusing social giants Twitter and Facebook of attempting to sway the process by either promoting misinformation or censoring news, particularly the controversial New York Post story on Hunter Biden's business dealings.
"It Protects the Freedom to Create and Share Content on Platforms…"
While Comstock doesn't believe platforms should be "bullied" into covering specific news, she said the act does ensure people the liberty to share information at will, so long as it is not "harmful content," which then could be subject to removal under the act.
"What it does is it protects the freedom to create and share content on platforms, a variety of platforms, not just the three companies you saw today; but platforms like Pinterest or Etsy or any kind of place where you want to share information," she said.
For Comstock, who spent time in office working on technology and cybersecurity matters, it makes sense for big tech companies and their users to be the ones regulating how these platforms operate. Comstock cites the inability for Congress to effectively govern as a premise for it to stay away from regulating internet platforms.
Following today's hearing, President Trump called for Section 230 to be repealed, however, Comstock said the services that internet platforms provide under the act are effective.
"Section 230 is what has allowed the internet to grow in the first place and allows everybody to have a voice," she said.
"It was designed to be very modern, and I think, unfortunately, what you have with Congress — and I would say a pox on both houses, Republicans and Democrats — is they basically don't like how any Media covers them."