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Sports US technology giants defend handling of user content

19:50  28 october  2020
19:50  28 october  2020 Source:   de.reuters.com

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Washington (Reuters) - The heads of the US technology giants Google, Facebook and Twitter want to stick to the handling of the content distributed by their users.

Tech CEOs testify at U.S. Senate hearing about internet regulation © Reuters / POOL Tech CEOs testify at U.S. Senate hearing about internet regulation

The previous regulation - known in the US as "Section 230" - is crucial for freedom of expression, said Twitter boss Jack Dorsey, Sundar Pichai from Google and Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg unanimously at a hearing in the trade committee of the US Senate on Wednesday. Dorsey stressed that undermining the existing protection could harm online communication. Pichai said the world's largest search engine company was not politically biased.

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The US government is pushing ahead with its plans to make Internet companies more responsible for the content of their users. So far, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) of 1996 protects technology companies from liability for content posted by their users on the Internet. Critics complain that, as a result, there is insufficient action against, for example, terrorist propaganda or false information on the Internet. A new law on this would have to pass both houses of Congress before it can come into force. This is not expected until next year at the earliest - and thus well after the US presidential elections next Tuesday. Democratic senators like Brian Schatz expressed incomprehension about having the hearing take place so close to the vote.

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At the beginning of the hearing, which lasted several hours, Zuckerberg provided for an unplanned break. "I had difficulty dialing in," said the Facebook boss. "I know the feeling," replied Republican committee chairman Roger Wicker. Sharp attacks by Republican Senator Ted Cruz against Twitter hardly bothered Dorsey. "Big Tech" is "the greatest threat" to the future of democracy, said Cruz. Like other senators, he criticized Twitter for blocking an article in the New York Post about the son of Democratic US presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Zuckerberg said he would support changes in the law, but warned of increased censorship should Section 230 be repealed. Dorsey and Pichai advocated more transparent decision-making processes for dealing with messages that are removed from their platforms. Zuckerberg emphasized that Facebook will continue to take action against influences from abroad on the US elections.

The big US technology companies are not only watched closely in the USA. The EU Commission is also working on a legislative package with far-reaching requirements.

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This is interesting!