U.S. President Donald Trump is threatening to veto a major defense spending and policy bill unless it includes eliminating a law protecting internet companies from liability for material posted by users.
Trump’s threat to veto the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) came in a late Tuesday tweet, and at a time when the $740 billion bill is in the hands of a committee to reconcile two different versions passed by the Senate and House of Representatives.
He called the law involving internet companies, known as Section 230, a form of “corporate welfare” and “a serious threat to our National Security & Election Integrity.”
Section 230, which is a liability shielding gift from the U.S. to “Big Tech” (the only companies in America that have it – corporate welfare!), is a serious threat to our National Security & Election Integrity. Our Country can never be safe & secure if we allow it to stand…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 2, 2020
Lawmakers from both the Democratic and Republican parties have called for changes to the Section 230 protections without wholesale repeal.
Jon Berroya, head of the Internet Association that represents tech companies such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and Reddit, said in response to Trump’s veto threat that repealing Section 230 would itself amount to a national security threat.
“The law empowers online platforms to remove harmful and dangerous content, including terrorist content and misinformation,” Berroya said. “Section 230 also underpins countless ecommerce websites, apps, and services that are helping small businesses across the country keep the lights on during a pandemic.”
Trump and other conservatives have made unproven accusations that companies such as Facebook and Twitter stifled conservative content.
With tech companies seeking to combat misinformation surrounding last month’s national elections, Twitter and Facebook have placed labels on numerous Trump posts as he repeated unsubstantiated claims of election fraud.