IBM torches Big Tech's get-out-of-jail-free card, says websites should be held responsible for netizen-posted content

www.theregister.co.uk | 7/11/2019 | Staff
shankay (Posted by) Level 3
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Analysis IBM has broken ranks with the tech industry – and advocated for changes to a US law that shields websites from legal headaches regarding the stuff their users post online.

In an essay shared this week, Big Blue's head of government and regulatory affairs Ryan Hagemann adopted the arguments of those who want to see an end to the blanket protections enabled by Section 230 of America's Communications Decency Act, including critics' emotive focus on the protection of children, and even proposed specific changes to the legislation.

Congress - Look - Section - Hagemann - Liability

Congress needs to take "a fresh look at Section 230," Hagemann wrote, criticizing it as providing "an expansive liability shield… regardless of whether the platform turns a blind eye to illegal activity."

Internet companies absolutely love Section 230 since it absolves them of any legal liability for the vast majority of user-submitted material on their platforms. However, a growing chorus of lawmakers and consumer advocates feel it is too broad and has resulted in companies like Facebook and Google not doing enough to combat offensive, misleading, and illegal content because there is no business reason for them to do so.

Company - Others - Industry - Content - Point

It is very unusual for a tech company to suggest that others in their industry are actively ignoring illegal content, however, rather than adopt the usual talking point of companies like YouTube and Twitter: that the sheer amount of content posted by users means content restrictions are extremely difficult and largely ineffective.

IBM says it is in favor of "precision regulation" that would "hold companies more accountable, without becoming over-broad or hindering innovation or the larger digital economy." It points to the idea of including a new standard for "reasonable care" that was first proposed in an academic paper in 2017 and has been growing in popularity among critics of the status quo.

IBM

More worryingly, IBM strays from...
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