The death of Section 230

Episode 258 of the Cyberlaw Podcast

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

Our News Roundup leads with the long, slow death of Section 230 immunity. Nick Weaver explains why he thinks social media's pursuit of engagement has led to a poisonous online environment, and Matthew Heiman replays the astonishing international consensus that Silicon Valley deserves the blame – and the regulation – for all that ails the Internet. The UK is considering holding social media execs liable for "harmful" content on their platforms. Australia has already passed a law to punish social media companies for failure to remove "abhorrent violent material." And Singapore is happily drafting behind the West, avoiding for once the criticism that its press controls are out of step with the international community. Even Mark Zuckerberg is reading the writing on the wall and asking for regulation. I note that lost in the one-minute hate directed at social media is any notion that other countries shouldn't be able to tell Americans what they can and can't read. I also wonder whether the consensus that platforms should be editors will add to conservative doubts about maintaining Section 230 at all – and in the process endanger the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement that would enshrines Section 230 in US treaty obligations.

Nate Jones and I summarize the latest Reuters piece on American hackers working for the UAE. The short version? This is more a victory lap combined with journalists' special pleading than a major new story.

Nate also briefs us on the latest tale of woe from Silicon Valley, where taking Chinese money and tech means you're likely to get burned – in a government-ordered fire sale.

Nick and I disagree about how flawed facial recognition is, but not on the fact that NGOs are working overtime to turn the technology toxic.

Nate gives Kaspersky's lawyers high grades for imagination and effort but not for credibility in their claim that we can trust the company's software because Russian law doesn't authorize Putin to intercept its data feeds.

And, with a hat tip to Gus Coldebella for the story, Matthew and I dig into the Washington attorney general's $12 million settlement with Motel 6 for its cooperation with ICE. We think Motel 6 could have defended on federal preemption grounds and maybe gotten help from the Justice Department. But if the problem was bad publicity, that defense would have just made things worse.

Our interview is with Adam Segal, the Council on Foreign Relations' expert on all things digital and China. Adam prognosticates on the likely fate of US-China trade talks, data localization in China, and on the future of China's commercial cyberespionage plans.

Download the 258th Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not reflect the opinions of our spouses (especially our spouses!), our clients, or our institutions.

NEXT: Felicity Huffman, 13 Others Plead Guilty in College Admissions Scandal

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. So long Internet, it was nice knowing you. We’re now going to have to settle for what is basically an a la carte TV channel if this keeps up, because it’s so easy to attention whore about the naughty words and pics online and the tech monopolies roll over adding fuel to the fire because they’re the biggest corporate nannystaters of all.

  2. Honestly I think CIFUS isn’t wrong for their concern about personal data of people with a security clearance could be a serious issue. In any system no matter how secure people are always a vulnerable link.

  3. “I note that lost in the one-minute hate directed at social media …”

    You might think I’m picking nits, but given that ‘Two Minutes Hate’ comes from an essential 20th century classic, I think it’s worth the correction – if only to bring Orwell’s 1984 back to attention.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.