July 10, 2019 / 10:02 PM / 6 days ago

IBM proposes changes to law shielding internet firms from user content liability

FILE PHOTO: A man stands near an IBM logo at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 25, 2019. REUTERS/Sergio Perez/

(Reuters) - International Business Machines Corp proposed changes to a 1996 law that protects internet companies from liabilities related to what users post on their platforms.

In a blog post on Wednesday, IBM called for a fresh look at Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA 230), which exempts developers of online services from lawsuits stemming from user-posted content such as restaurant reviews or social media photos.

“We simply believe companies should also be held legally responsible to use reasonable, common-sense care when it comes to moderating online content,” Ryan Hagemann, an IBM government and regulatory affairs technology policy executive said in the blog post.

Silicon Valley has long opposed efforts to rewrite the decades-old Communications Decency Act, which has been credited with helping the rapid growth of internet companies over the past 20 years.

Some lawmakers and attorneys have argued that the statute, CDA 230, has been broadly interpreted to give companies too much leeway in avoiding responsibility for harmful content.

The law at present is an expansive liability shield for internet companies for actions that occur on their platforms, regardless of whether the platform turns a blind eye to illegal activity, Hagemann said.

Reporting by Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta

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