Congress plans to push forward the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) despite President Trump’s threats to veto the military spending bill. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted that he will veto the NDAA if it does not include a provision to repeal Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act.
Section 230 gives tech platforms immunity from liability over the content published by third party users. Meaning, a social media platform like Twitter is not liable for its users’ content. But in the face of increasing tech censorship, which has an apparent bias against President Trump, calls to repeal Section 230 are growing.
Congressional aides told Defense News that the compromise version of the NDAA, the version both chambers of Congress negotiated, does not include a provision to repeal Section 230.
“We worked hard to craft a bipartisan defense bill that actually focuses on national defense. It would be irresponsible of President Trump to hold the well-being of our troops hostage because he doesn’t like what’s trending on Twitter,” Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, told Defense News.
Republicans are also urging the president not to veto the NDAA over section 230. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told Politico that Section 230 “has nothing to do with the military.” Inhofe said he expressed his view to President Trump. “You can’t do it in this bill. That’s not a part of the bill,” he said.
Social media censorship stepped up in the wake of the 2016 election. One of the most egregious examples of big tech censorship exposing a political bias happened in October when Twitter blocked its users from accessing a New York Post story about Hunter Biden’s laptop scandal.
The censorship also targets narratives that go against mainstream US foreign policy positions. After the US assassination of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani, Facebook removed posts that portrayed the general in a favorable light. In 2018, Facebook teamed up with the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Research Lab to “combat disinformation” and remove content. The Atlantic Council is a Washington-based think tank that funded by US weapons makers, the US government, and NATO.