The Internet PACT Act would also change Section 230 to require taking down illegal content.
U.S. policymakers are divided on many aspects of content moderation policies on social networks, but can find common ground on setting those policies. A bipartisan group of senators led by Brian Schatz and John Thune has introduced the Internet Platform Accountability and Consumer Transparency Act (Internet PACT), a bill that would set “clear” content moderation policies that they would consistently enforce.
The amendment to the Communications Act would require online services to explain their moderation in an “easily accessible” usage policy and share twice-yearly reports with anonymous statistics on content that has been pulled, demoted or demonetized. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will lead the development of a voluntary framework to define industry-wide practices, Engadget wrote on the topic.
The bill would also prohibit companies from using Section 230 as a shield when the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and other national regulators bring civil lawsuits.
State attorneys general could enforce federal civil laws when they are used against online platforms, while the Government Accountability Office (GAO) would have to study the viability of an FTC-run whistleblower program for companies operating online platforms.
It is not certain that the Internet PACT Act will be enacted into law. Still, bipartisan support could help. Whether the proposed amendments to Section 230 will satisfy politicians is another question. Both Democrats and Republicans have called for sweeping reforms before, but the changes here will be relatively limited. They will, however, put pressure on companies to act quickly on illegal content.