President Donald Trump is desperately trying to reaist a portion of the US law protecting big tech companies.
Late Tuesday night, the president tweeted that he would veto the National Defense Authorization Act if it did not include a repeal of the Section 230 statute.
“If the very dangerous & unfair Section 230 (The internet law) is not completely terminated as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), I will be forced to unequivocally VETO the Bill when sent to the very beautiful Resolute desk,” Trump tweeted.
The NDAA is an annual defense bill giving the US military approximately $740 billion in spending. If lawmakers voted to rename Army posts named after Confederate generals, Trump threatened to veto the bill in July.
Section 230 of the 1996 Communications and Decency Act provides extensive legal rights to internet businesses. It implies that tech firms will determine how to moderate their own sites and are excluded from responsibility for content shared by their users.
Since May, when Twitter put fact-checks on two of his tweets, Trump has been raging against the constitution. Trump signed an executive order two days later, on May 28, instructing federal regulators to study how parts of Section 230. could be rolled back. He accused Big Tech firms of discriminating against conservative users, an assertion that was refuted by businesses.
In September, the Department of Justice sent draft legislation to Congress and the Federal Communications Commission agreed in October to review the interpretation of Section 230.
Trump’s push to get the law changed was delayed by the US election, and legal experts told Business Insider that there was no possibility of any amendments to Section 230 before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on January 20.
“Even in the most optimistic scenario, any final rule will be challenged immediately in court and be put on hold,” said Scott Shackelford, Indiana University’s associate professor of business law and ethics. “Plus, any executive action in this context cannot fundamentally change Section 230, not without congressional action.”
With a two-thirds majority, Congress is able to override a presidential veto. Per Politico, during his presidency, Trump vetoed eight bills, and Congress was unable to bring together sufficient bipartisan support to override them.
This means that the US will have to wait until Biden’s inauguration before military spending can resume if Trump follows through on his threat.
An unnamed source told The Washington Post that Republicans had proposed to Democrats that it was possible to trade the refurbishment of Section 230 for the renaming of military bases named after Confederate leaders, but that bid was overwhelmingly refused.
Many Democrats have expressed support, but for different reasons than Republicans have, for reforming Section 230. In January, Biden expressed support for the repeal of the law on the grounds that it gave too much protection for hosting harmful content to tech giants.