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The Trump administration took a step forward in its fight against tech censorship.

Proposed draft legislation sent to Congress by the Justice Department on Wednesday takes aim at social media platforms by modifying Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, seeking to narrow the scope of the liability protections granted by the act and eliminate the protection altogether for platforms that facilitate illegal activities.

Attorney General William Barr said in a statement:
"For too long Section 230 has provided a shield for online platforms to operate with impunity. Ensuring that the internet is a safe, but also vibrant, open and competitive environment is vitally important to America. We therefore urge Congress to make these necessary reforms to Section 230 and begin to hold online platforms accountable both when they unlawfully censor speech and when they knowingly facilitate criminal activity online."
The Justice Department argued that online platforms have used the immunity from liability to censor certain types of lawful speech, and its proposal would revise and clarify the existing language while also providing greater guidance to platforms, users, and courts. In particular, the Trump administration seeks to add the statutory definition of "good faith" with regard to the way platforms will censor their users. The Justice Department also proposed changing language from "otherwise objectionable" content to "unlawful" and "promotes terrorism," which the agency argued would prevent platforms from removing content that they simply dislike.

The proposed changes come months after President Trump signed an executive order to combat what he views as unfair censorship of conservative voices. The order claimed that Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube
"wield immense, if not unprecedented, power to shape the interpretation of public events" and that "online platforms are engaging in selective censorship that is harming our national discourse."
The Justice Department issued a report in July that included the policy proposals that were integrated into the proposed legislation sent to Congress on Wednesday, signaling the department's intent to "update the outdated immunity for online platforms" under Section 230.
"Section 230 was originally enacted to protect developing technology by providing that online platforms were not liable for the third-party content on their services or for their removal of such content in certain circumstances. This immunity was meant to nurture emerging internet businesses and to overrule a judicial precedent that rendered online platforms liable for all third-party content on their services if they restricted some harmful content," the DOJ said at the time.

"However, the combination of 25 years of drastic technological changes and an expansive statutory interpretation left online platforms unaccountable for a variety of harms flowing from content on their platforms and with virtually unfettered discretion to censor third-party content with little transparency or accountability."
Last summer, the Justice Department opened a sweeping antitrust review into online platforms.