To add to the growing number of bills that would amend or revoke Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, last month Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced the Health Misinformation Act of 2021 (S.2448). Senator Ben Lujan (D-NM) cosponsored the bill.
The bill would amend Section 230 to revoke the Act’s liability shield for internet platforms that use algorithms to promote health-related misinformation during “public health emergencies.” Under the bill, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services would issue guidance regarding what constitutes health misinformation. The bill would not revoke the Section 230 liability shield when the promotion of such information occurred through a “neutral” process, such as the appearance of information chronologically in a user’s social media feed.
Senator Klobuchar’s bill joins a growing number of proposals that address the use of algorithms by internet platforms. For example, in June Senator John Thune (R-SD) introduced the “Filter Bubble Transparency Act” (S.2024), which would require operators of internet platforms that use algorithms to notify users if the platform uses an algorithm that makes inferences based on user-specific data to determine the order or manner that content is furnished. In May, Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-MA) introduced the “Algorithmic Justice and Online Platform Transparency Act” (S.1896), which would require that online platforms disclose the categories of personal information collected to maintain algorithms, disclose information about how such information is used, and provide descriptions of the platform’s automated and manual content moderation practices.
We will continue to monitor legislative developments on this front.