Free Trade

Score One for Trump's Trade Policy: Putting Online Speech Protections in Trade Deals Makes Sense

For once, the Trump administration is on the right side of a debate with Congress over trade.

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Even as the Trump administration is cheerleading congressional efforts to roll back protections for free speech online, it's enshrining those same protections in two new trade deals.

That has irked members of both parties on Capitol Hill, as lawmakers mull a possible rewrite of longstanding liability protections for online platforms and consider whether to approve President Donald Trump's new trade deals with Canada and Mexico and with Japan. But this is a situation that inverts the usual relationship between Congress and the current administration when it comes to trade. This time, the White House is doing what's right.

Specifically, members of Congress are upset that the new United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA)—an update of the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)—as well as the just-announced deal between the U.S. and Japan will include provisions shielding tech companies from liability for content. Though it's not a simple copy/paste, the trade deals effectively duplicate the promise made by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a 1996 law that protects online speech by freeing platforms from liability for user-created content.

Section 230 is the internet's First Amendment. Putting that language into trade deals helps ensure that a free and open internet is the global standard. "These laws prevent websites from being sued for their users' content, and they are fundamental to the United States' preeminence in the digital space," says Clark Packard, trade policy counsel for the R Street Institute.

Protecting online speech isn't just about maintaining Enlightenment values in a digital world. It's also good for business. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that the digital economy accounts for about 6.5 percent of America's gross domestic product (about $1.3 trillion), a figure that has been growing steadily for years. By signing trade agreements that prohibit governments from raising barriers to digital trade or imposing expensive liability requirements on digital platforms, America is helping to ensure that growth continues.

Including Section 230 language in trade deals is also an important move in a long-term battle over the global internet.

America got to write the rules for the first few generations of the online world because it was the most connected country and the home of most major tech firms. Those things are still true, but less so. And competing visions for the rules that govern the internet are already well-established. The European Union is building a legal framework that differs from the "free and open" model established by Section 230—one that includes more stringent regulations for digital platforms and how they relate to users. And there is nothing free or open about China's ideal online space.

Those differing legal frameworks for the digital world are going to clash with one another. In that environment, binding together governments to protect free speech online makes a lot of sense. (Would that Trump would apply that lesson to other aspects of trade.)

But some members of Congress are intent on carving up Section 230, in a misguided attempt at holding tech platforms like Google and Facebook accountable. And they don't see it that way. Rep. Frank Pallone (D–N.J.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said during this week's Section 230 hearing that Trump is unlikely to get support from Congress for trade deals that include provisions subject to ongoing congressional debate.

Those objections are intellectually dishonest, says Ashkhen Kazaryan, a legal fellow at Tech Freedom, a pro-Section 230 nonprofit. Including liability protections in trade deals "does not mean that congressional hands are tied in addressing the issues surrounding content moderation and platform liability."

Congress frequently debates or rewrites domestic laws that are similar to provisions included in trade deals. Having intellectual property protections written into NAFTA, for example, has not stopped Congress from adjusting copyright laws in America, as Katherine Oyama, director of intellectual property policy for Google, told lawmakers at the hearing.

Congress does, of course, have the power to change laws whenever it wants. But scrapping or rewriting Section 230 would be a mistake, and Trump is right to push for liability protections in trade deals—especially while Section 230 is the law of the land in America.

Not that Trump likely has much to do with it. When he talks about the USMCA, he rarely if ever mentions the need for updated digital rights agreements. Mostly, he's been interested in raising tariffs on imported cars or pinning political blame for the loss of American manufacturing jobs. And while the president isn't leading the charge on Capitol Hill to rewrite or abolish Section 230, he's certainly been supportive of the effort.

Also, it's not as if the Trump administration overcame any dramatic hurdles to have those provisions included the NAFTA rewrite or the Japananese trade deal. The other three countries involved in those agreements were already abiding by American standards for online trade, so the deals mostly just codified the status quo.

But when even the most anti-trade administration in recent American history is pushing to make it easier for America to export its successful legal framework for online free speech, that should give you an idea about just how off-base the congressional effort to scrap Section 230 really is.

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  1. Looks like this writer owes a certain president a huge trade apology.

    1. I’d prefer to trade barbs than trade apologies.

      1. I’ll trade you my Walters for your Bush.

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    3. Looks like this writer owes a certain president a huge trade apology.

      Here’s what he said, Mindless Trumptard.

      This time, the White House is doing what’s right.”

      No problem, we’re all used to your bullshit.
      Even when it’s so blatantly obvious as you are here.

      In all fairness, with the Trump Administration collapsing on all fronts, things are getting desperate for his goobers, as the severe denial just gets wackier.

    4. Yes, on this Demented and Deluded Donald is right.

      But he is, as per his MO, full of hot air. He needs to embargo all Chinese made products until China opens up its internet so that American content provided, even if that content exposes the evils of Conservative Socialism, aka Communism (Stalin Mao etc.), are allowed access to Chinese eyeballs.

  2. Cue the conniptions of the conservatards! Trump wants to restrict trade to insure ferriner nations adhere to Section 230-style protections for corporations! Yeah Trump, he wants to restrict trade! (Temporarily ignore the pro-free-speech implications there; trade restrictions is the focus). Yeah Trump!

    Now Trump, PLEASE tear down section 230 domestically, because reasons hurrr Grrr Google and Facebook and the media sometimes don’t like my posts!!! And I’m TOOO cheap to pay for publishing my posts for myself, on my own dime!

    At the end of the day, then, let us bleed and die for the free speech rights of ferriners, but DOMESTIC free speech rights are some sort of 5th-class bastard child…

    1. I think you’re conflating corporate cronyism with free speech.

  3. thanks I was hoping Reason would write about this subject since the rest of the country including old world media want to tie the hands of freedom of speech under the gueiss of “Big Tech bad” no one else was app to report on it and its benifits

    1. If this passes, what will Sen. Rob Portman do with his time? Bypassing section 230 to harass and shut down Backpage was the core of his existence.

      1. Maybe he can go find a real job and be useful to society instead of a useless idiot.

  4. “Even as the Trump administration is cheerleading congressional efforts to roll back protections for free speech online, it’s enshrining those same protections in two new trade deals.”

    Populist red meat for the brittle “anti-tech” contingent of the Republican electorate, while pursuing a sensible approach in practice. Regardless of whether this is good or bad policy, Trump seems to be able to juggle his rhetoric and his actions quite well. This is sort of along the lines of Trump *saying* things that can be construed as “unconstitutional,” but not acting unconstitutionally, whereas the Democrats pay lip service to the constitution, even as they take affirmative steps to gut it.

    Imagine, for a moment, that Trump is not the idiot everyone makes him out to be. His greatest advantage, in my view, is that everyone assumes he’s a moron and that is precisely why he ends up running circles around his adversaries.

    1. Imagine, for a moment, that Trump is not the idiot everyone makes him out to be.

      No.

      1. Hey, didn’t Einstein say imagination is more important than knowledge?

        1. knowledge possible w/o imagination?

    1. All the abuse from the commentariat took its toll. He caved.

      1. It’s nice to see he’s capable of understanding feedback.

        1. “To be sure, Trump is still an ass, but he wasn’t completely wrong here”

    2. LAURSEN’S BRAIN MOVES BEYOND IMPLOSION
      DRAGGING ALL HIS OTHER SOCKS.

  5. The primary benefits of free trade are about being able to sell products in foreign markets and the ability to purchase imports for less than we can acquire there domestically.

    The idea that we should forgo those benefits unless the Chinese government–or any other government–starts protecting freedom of speech is about as close to a proxy for being anti-trade as there can be.

    If the Trump administration is insisting on political reforms before we can enjoy the benefits of free trade, then the Trump administration is wrong for all the same reasons they’re wrong on trade wars entirely.

    1. I get what you are saying, but this is an intersection of trade and freedom. On the internet, “Foreign trade” often means “publishing content consumed in a foreign country”. These section 230 protections are designed to allow tech companies (many of which are American) to ply their trade internationally.

      In other words, don’t think of these as trying to force political reforms on certain companies. Think of them as the same sorts of IP, arbitration, and contract protections that tend to make up trade agreements.

      1. I do not doubt your motives.

        Our anti-trade politicians, however, are not looking at it that way. They’ll use anything that comes along as a justification to oppose more international trade, and to whatever extent they can use the excuse of freedom of speech to throw a monkey wrench in our trade relationship with China (or anyone else), that’s exactly what they’ll do.

        Incidentally, the Obama administration did this twice with workers’ rights–once in the South Korean trade agreement and another time in the Colombian trade agreement. In both cases it amounted to more or less the same thing. They renegotiated the agreement in order to put some lofty goal of worker protections into it–but the renegotiation language was really about throwing bones to unions like the UAW.

        “The deal was supported by Ford Motor Company, as well as the United Auto Workers, both of which had previously opposed the agreement. Remarking on the UAW’s support, an Obama administration official was quoted as saying, “It has been a long time since a union supported a trade agreement” and thus the administration hopes for a “big, broad bipartisan vote” in the U.S. Congress in 2011.[16]”

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States%E2%80%93Korea_Free_Trade_Agreement#2008%E2%80%9311

    2. Risky, true, but what if we can win both ends?

    3. Actually – its, “The primary benefits of free trade are about getting all the trade fees billed to us to sell products in foreign markets and the ability to subsidize the purchase of imports making all taxpayers help foot our import goodies bill domestically.”

  6. If you want to hamstring the U.S. economy for the benefit of free speech in Belarus, go run for office in Belarus.

    Individual Americans, however, should be free to purchase whatever imports they please from Belarus without being subject to your personal qualitative preferences.

    1. Let’s posit that after decades of purchasing Belarussian (or, Chinese) products, and labor, and raw materials, domestic industries (manufacturing, retail, etc.) are devastated and, as a result, domestic employment opportunities for Americans dwindle without the emergence of other industries to accommodate millions of jobless individuals. Does this not *also* hamstring the U.S. economy?

      1. There’s this thing called “creative destruction”, and although the changes it bring are hard and difficult, long term economic growth is impossible without it.

        One of the reasons the area of the former Soviet Union can only compete on commodities and natural resources is because the Soviet Union “protected” their economy from creative destruction for so long, nothing else they can do or make now is particularly competitive on the world market. In other words, if anything was destructive to the long term marketability of industrial workers in the former Soviet Union today, surely it was “protecting” them from creative destruction.

        Meanwhile, the world you’re describing is a world where economic growth doesn’t happen because of creative destruction, and yet in the real world, our economy has continued to flourish–not only in spite of but also because of creative destruction. There are rough patches in the form of recessions, but American workers enjoy a higher standard of living today than they did before China joined the WTO in 2001.

        Understand, there’s no doubt that if you’re the one who gets paid $65 an hour to screw in lug nuts, you are not better off (on average) for having your job replaced by a non-union worker overseas. The country’s consumers and employers, on the other hand, are far better off for not having to pay for the costs associated with paying people $65 an hour to screw in lug nuts and still getting the same product. And that benefit to the whole economy is reflected in the numbers.

        The median income for U.S. workers has not fallen since China joined the WTO and so many manufacturing jobs were lost.

        https://www.advisorperspectives.com/dshort/updates/2018/10/16/u-s-household-incomes-a-51-year-perspective

        1. If the dissipation of domestic industries is limited, I would agree that the principles of “creative destruction” can result in long term economic growth. It is inevitable that some industries will fade, while others will emerge to replace them. But is not possible, likely even, that the domestic industries that dissipate in future waves will no longer be limited to lug nut screwers, or other unskilled/low-skilled varieties or employment?

          What happens when the lug nut screwer becomes the physician’s assistant? Or, the attorney? Or, the technology adviser? Financial managers? The human resources specialist? Does “creative destruction” provide a sufficient counter balance to the dissipation of traditionally “white collar” professions when there is an incentive to obtain such services from abroad for a fraction of the price? If doctors in India can diagnose our ailments and prescribe medications remotely, and our technological needs can be met by programmers from China, and so on and so forth, what happens then?

          Now, I concede that such a massive, coordinated wave of replacement, across many white collar industries, doesn’t seem particularly likely to occur at the present moment. However, that is more due to the fact that, in many instances, there are domestic licensing restrictions in place to shield these industries from foreign competition (licensing, in reality, is a protective trade restriction) rather than it being the case that there is a lack of foreigner talent capable of doing the job.

          But, let’s also posit that these licensing restrictions, consistent with the libertarian pursuit of free trade, are rolled back or otherwise abolished. What then? It seems that the benefits of free trade, if applied consistently across all industries, rather than just the manufacturing sector, would absolutely gut the American economy. Is that not so? Is not the logical conclusion of a true free-trade policy the gradual (or, perhaps, rapid) dissipation of employment prospects at least until we reach an equilibrium where domestic costs are attractive? And, would not that point of equilibrium result in a massive lowering of the American standard of living?

          If you can buy everything you need in a grocery store, your life is easy, but what are you chances of surviving in the woods, if you suddenly had to? Doesn’t unlimited free trade ultimately create the same scenario? If our reliance on foreign services and industry is sufficiently thorough, how can we hope to maintain a stable economy? Does free trade really work?

          1. “What happens when the lug nut screwer becomes the physician’s assistant? Or, the attorney? Or, the technology adviser? Financial managers? The human resources specialist? Does “creative destruction” provide a sufficient counter balance to the dissipation of traditionally “white collar” professions when there is an incentive to obtain such services from abroad for a fraction of the price?”

            Yes, this is the way the standard of living improves over time–by replacing high cost things with low cost substitutes. This is one of the big reasons why I’m dismissive of Yang’s proposals to start redistributing income as a solution to the “problem” of automation. If and when our productive capacity explodes to the point where automation can make everything we need at such low cost, it’ll make our standard of living increase like it never has before.

            The standard of living increases as people can obtain the same amount or more of what they want at lower and lower costs. To interfere with the means by which trade, automation, etc. cuts our costs is to interfere with the means by which our standard of living improves. And it isn’t just with lower paid jobs. Our economy is not worse off because people can find financial and legal help online for less. In fact, as the cost of getting financial advice and legal help falls, more people can afford these things who couldn’t afford them before.

            Two weeks ago, Charles Schwab announced that they’re offering commission free trading! When I was a little kid, you still needed a broker to pay for a stock, and the commissions reflected that. Now Schwab has announced that they’re letting people with an account trade fractions of stocks.

            https://www.cnbc.com/2019/10/17/the-latest-in-the-brokerage-wars-charles-schwab-will-allow-people-to-buy-fractions-of-stocks.html

            Yeah, creative destruction comes for white collar professions, too, and that’s a good thing for everyone who cares about getting access to those services for lower fees.

            1. I may have forgotten to close an italics tag.

              1. //Yeah, creative destruction comes for white collar professions, too, and that’s a good thing for everyone who cares about getting access to those services for lower fees.//

                Isn’t there a floor? Lower fees and costs seem immaterial when the anticipated consumers of goods and services do not have jobs because all the jobs, across all industries, have been outsourced and/or replaced.

                Cheap goods, even the cheapest possible goods, are still prohibitively expensive for someone without an income. No?

                1. I keep trying to imagine the world where we’re able to feed, clothe, transport, entertain, and house ourselves in luxury at lower and lower prices–until it ultimately impoverishes us.

                  I just can’t see it.

                2. “Isn’t there a floor? Lower fees and costs seem immaterial when the anticipated consumers of goods and services do not have jobs because all the jobs, across all industries, have been outsourced and/or replaced.”

                  You need to read some history, Robert Malthus.

      2. Do Belarusian mail order brides count as product/trade?

        1. Sure do. And the result is an American sexual market flooded with single, medicated, middle-aged women harboring cats, refugees, and pussy hats.

    2. I agree with your general sentiment, but I don’t agree with the specifics. Facebook, Google etc. are trade. Facebook in Belarus, Google in Germany… that represents trade. I have no problem with the POTUS pushing these foreign entities to lay off the pressure as it relates to these services operating on foreign lands in the process of landing a trade deal.

      I’m not going to get into a debate about Section 230, but I think it’s well within the POTUS right to demand that free trade extend to services provided… even if those servers are ‘virtual’.

      1. And when I say I agree with your sentiment, I mean the pure, libertarian idea that politics shouldn’t be in the way of my free exchange of goods and services with people abroad. But the reality is that happens and I’d rather have a POTUS use political pressure to grease the wheels, than gum them up.

        1. “I’d rather have a POTUS use political pressure to grease the wheels, than gum them up.”

          So, if and when President Elizabeth Warren decides we shouldn’t have trade with China anymore–at least not until they respect the Chinese people’s right to freedom of speech–you plan to oppose her then?

          I oppose that now.

          The law that puts pr0nographers on watchlists will also be used to for high school girls that text photos of themselves to their boyfriends. It may have been an unintended consequence, but it was also predictable.

          That is my immediate thought on this with trade. It’s much like the arguments about social media. The people who think that government action will make social media safe for hate speech under Donald Trump don’t seem to realize that the powers they want to give to the Trump administration or Congress over social media will also be available to the government when Liz Warren becomes president–and decides to eradicate hate speech (as she defines it) from social media.

          The anti-trade people will use this to their own ends.

          1. So, if and when President Elizabeth Warren decides we shouldn’t have trade with China anymore–at least not until they respect the Chinese people’s right to freedom of speech–you plan to oppose her then?

            I oppose that now.

            Well of course because I would argue there’s a significant and important distinction between your hypothetical and what Donald Trump is specifying. Demanding they change the political landscape as it relates to their citizen’s rights is much different in scope than demanding that their government stop harassing OUR companies on specific operational parameters.

            If, for instance, Elizabeth Warren demanded that the Chinese stop blocking Google (and other) services in the process of a trade deal, I would support that.

            One is specific to US companies operating in Chinese mainland territory, the other is a purely political move demanding they change the cultural landscape of their laws as to how they apply directly to the citizens of China.

            1. “If, for instance, Elizabeth Warren demanded that the Chinese stop blocking Google (and other) services in the process of a trade deal, I would support that.”

              If you want to refrain from buying Chinese manufactured goods because you disapprove of the Chinese government’s polices, I think you should be free to do so. If you want to persuade other Americans to boycott Chinese manufactured goods because you disapprove of the Chinese government’s policies, I think you should be free to do so.

              When it comes to using the government to inflict your will on other Americans who don’t share your views about the relative importance of their own standard of living vis a vis China’s free speech policies, that’s where we part company.

              Realize it or not, you’re holding the good of the U.S. economy hostage for the sake of the citizens of some foreign country. I don’t see why the American people should suffer a lower standard of living for the good of people in some other country–certainly not against their will. And Americans express their views about that millions of times a day–every time they buy Chinese manufactured goods on Amazon and at Walmart.

              I think you should be free to refrain from using plastic straws–if you wish.

              1. I don’t disagree in principle with what you’re saying. But that’s part of the trade deal making process. Which, by the way is exactly what Reason writers have been saying over the last few months: Trump’s hard line on trade is hamstringing the American economy in service of making China open up their markets. And you’ve defended the President’s actions because, I presume you believe that in the long term, those actions will pay off. Again, it seems you’re avoiding my point: keep the trade deal points specific to the goods and services being traded. I’m not trading voting or autonomy rights for Hong Kong citizens. So yes, demanding Beijing lay off the Hong Kong protesters in exchange for importing affordable Chinese goods would not be a good bargaining chip.

                1. “I presume you believe that in the long term, those actions will pay off.”

                  I opposed Trump’s trade policy since before he was elected, while he’s elected, and I’ll oppose after he’s elected–even if he gets everything he promised, I’ll continue to oppose it as an unnecessary risk.

                  As I keep saying, betting your life savings on one roll of the dice is unwise, and it doesn’t suddenly become a smart thing to do just because you won. And that’s what It think Trump did. He gambled with our economy when he gambled with our trade relationship with China, and if all he ends up doing is getting back to where we were before all this started, I’ll consider that a great victory and his entire trade war a big mess.

          2. The people who think that government action will make social media safe for hate speech under Donald Trump don’t seem to realize that the powers they want to give to the Trump administration or Congress over social media will also be available to the government when Liz Warren becomes president–and decides to eradicate hate speech (as she defines it) from social media.

            Everything can be abused in ways we can’t predict. But I think it’s naive to think that in the process of international trade (in a world where we respect national sovereignty and borders) that we won’t levy ‘asks’ of the foreign nation in regards to how they treat our goods and services. I would say if the ‘ask’ pertains as directly as possible to the goods and services being traded, it’s going to be a reality of international trade negotiations.

            Per your example above vis a vis Lizzy Warren, such an ‘ask’ doesn’t pertain directly to any goods and services being traded.

            1. “Per your example above vis a vis Lizzy Warren, such an ‘ask’ doesn’t pertain directly to any goods and services being traded.”

              I’m not following.

              If at any point we restrict trade on the basis that some other country isn’t respecting their own people’s free speech rights, then we are holding trade hostage to that.

              Canada doesn’t have a First Amendment, and they fined a comedian tens of thousands of dollars for making jokes about the handicapped. Australia doesn’t have a First Amendment. The UK doesn’t have a First Amendment. The First Amendment isn’t just what protects our freedom of speech in law, it’s also a big part of what makes our society American.

              How far are you willing to take this free speech exception? If we can’t increased international trade so long as President Warren decides that everyone from Australia and Canada to the UK are insufficiently protective of their own people’s free speech rights, then why aren’t we leaving our free trade to the discretion of Liz Warren?

              i oppose giving any president further leverage to scuttle trade on that basis–or any other basis. They will use whatever tools we give them against us–as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow.

          3. Sorry to wall-o-text you, but another example I just came up with. In the process of a free trade deal, France demands that before they sign a deal, every city in America must make it legal for homeless to camp on the streets indefinitely, with no consequences for littering and other disorderly conduct, and any arrests for crimes such as assault, rape, theft must be put into a deferment program instead of jail time– (a policy some cities have right now) then they won’t ratify said deal. That would be an unreasonable ask.

            But if, for instance, a foreign country said, “we want to sell our sports cars in your country, but you gotta lay off this bullshit plasticated 5mph safety bumper requirement because it fucks up the lines of our superior and beautiful cars” that would be a reasonable ask. I’m not saying it is something we HAVE to agree with, but it’s a deal point that pertains directly to the goods and services being traded.

            1. BRAVO DIANE!!!

              (Praise, when earned, versus mindless tribalism on both the left and right. Call it Moral Integrity.)

            2. When anti-trade politicians are looking to scuttle deals, they’ll use any toe hold they can find, and I don’t see any reason to give them any more than necessary.

              Let me ask you this: How do you think people in the UK feel about being subject to the rules and regulations of the EU? Looking at the continued support for Brexit, it seems to me they don’t like that very much. Now you want them to adopt speech codes they oppose as a precondition for a trade deal?

              You’re giving so many people new and more persuasive reasons to oppose international trade at home.

              How ’bout, “We’ll lower our tariffs if you lower yours”, full stop?

  7. >>>That has irked members of both parties on Capitol Hill

    winning. fuck those guys.

  8. “Section 230 is the internet’s First Amendment.”

    No it isn’t. Quit saying that. The first amendment exists without CDA 230. Anyone can own their own neo Nazi propaganda website and no one can remove your content. There has never been a law saying you can’t. Ever. Even before CDA 230. Same as after CDA 230.
    Try spreading neo Nazi propaganda on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Yelp. They’ll remove it. No free speech there. However, if I try to sell guns or drugs through there they don’t get in trouble. That’s what CDA 230 is.

    1. I cannot help but suspect saying that was the point of the whole article. If it meant paying Trump a ‘complement’ well, that was just the price to be payed.

    2. GOOBER ALERT!!!

      “Section 230 is the internet’s First Amendment.”

      No it isn’t. Quit saying that

      Go ahead. Make a fool of yourself. Again.

      The first amendment exists without CDA 230

      Does this goober “think” the internet is the government? (guffaw)
      Or perhaps another right-wing authoritarian who “thinks” the Constitution limits INDIVIDUALS?-

  9. So if the Japanese and American governments sign this deal how does it work? Thinking about Fallout 3 where the Japanese censors made Bethesda change the game because of a weapon called the fatman and the player having the option to nuke a city.

    1. Megaton was a crappy city that was going nowhere anyways.

      1. But the Japanese will never get to experience the joy of nuking that shithole.

        1. Or the subsequent giant radioactive monsters that spring from the ashes.

      2. Plus it nuking it was literally the only way to kill kids in that game. What good is a game if you can’t kill the children?

    2. In the case of Fallout 3, Bethesda is the publisher. So any rules that the country has restricting the publisher would be the same. Section 230 applies to platforms that allow others to publish using that platform. And all that it says is that the platform cannot be held accountable for failing to (or deciding to) moderate in a certain way.

      That isn’t to say that the company cannot be told to remove offensive content (as US companies are forced to remove child porn, etc). But in general, as long as the company is making a good faith effort to fulfill the legal requirements, they are allowed to moderate as they wish and not be held accountable for the actual content created by separate publishers.

      A key point that often gets overlooked with 230 is that it is perfectly ok to moderate for viewpoint. If you want to run a forum for like minded people to discuss libertarian principles, and you don’t like folks like Tulpa and SPB shitting up the comments, you are protected by 230. You are even protected if you want to remove content that is critical of libertarian philosophy. You are still protected by 230, even if you moderate in an ideological way.

  10. shielding tech companies from liability for content =/= online speech protection

    1. No, it is more protection of Freedom of Association.

      1. Yes, for a select few.

    2. RIGHT!! That’s the conclusion about section 230 I’ve come up with. That tech companies cannot be held liable for ‘user’ content.. I don’t think it actually protects them from being liable for their ‘own’ content.

      Its funny how we now need laws in order to protect innocent by-standards. I guess there’s just too many people blaming, suing and laying the blame on any 3rd party association they can dream up.

  11. It’s a trick. It has to be a trick of some kind. Trump doing something right? Who does he think he is? Fezzik?

  12. Breaking News
    China 3Q2019 GDP hits 27.5 year low of 6.0% as officials say 90% of downside pressure coming from trade war.
    https://twitter.com/cvpayne/status/1185032316646760449

    But the doofuses here say the tariffs don’t cost China anything . . . . . ??????

    1. ML shamelessly cites a … TWITTER FEED … by FOX NEWS! About as stupid as quoting MSNBC on Trump!!!!

      Left – Right = Zero
      Loyal puppets of the ruling elites.

    2. I don’t recall that being said. In any case it is nothing to celebrate. Why should some Chinese worker being out of a job be good news.

      There are other factors at work. The Chinese government needs to liberalize the economy and financial markets if it hopes to compete on a global scale. The capitalist communist hybrid model can only go so far and it is nearing its limits. Similar changes happened in India and Israel as the states realized eventually that to continue growth they needed more open societies and ending state control of industries.

      One nation that was once considered a rising economic power and is going the other way now is Turkey. That is because Erdogan is losing his mind and some of his best talent is leaving or repressed by creating an autocratic regime in what once was a very open democratic society.

  13. To repeat my comment from yesterday, we have been giving foreign competition a huge leg up by smothering domestic industry with unequal taxes and regulations, while opening the doors wide open for foreign industry to flood our markets, completely free of any similar burden.

    This is quite simply insane. It is nothing short of a total sellout of our country’s future and the American people by rapacious elites.

    As Adam Smith wrote:

    “It will generally be advantageous to lay some burden upon foreign industry for the encouragement of domestic industry, when some tax is imposed at home upon the produce of the latter. In this case, it seems reasonable that an equal tax should be imposed upon the like produce of the former. This would not give the monopoly of the borne market to domestic industry, nor turn towards a particular employment a greater share of the stock and labour of the country, than what would naturally go to it. It would only hinder any part of what would naturally go to it from being turned away by the tax into a less natural direction, and would leave the competition between foreign and domestic industry, after the tax, as nearly as possible upon the same footing as before it.”

  14. This is admirable; free speech is a goal desired by all decent people.
    It is also a waste of time, ink, bandwidth and money.
    There is no way to enforce it, it is not the duty of the US government to enforce, by trade agreements, free speech in other countries.
    Free trade (which Reason claims to support ) is free of such dependencies.

  15. Agreed but we have private companies already caving to Chinese censorship. Example, Marriott fired a low level employee for simply liking a post to Free Tibet.

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