SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF / CNN) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco is signaling support for changing a provision in the law that says internet companies aren’t considered publishers of anything that’s posted on their platforms, and thus aren’t held responsible.
Pelosi, in a podcast interview with Kara Swisher of Recode that published Thursday evening, suggested internet companies were taking advantage of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
“There has to be a bigger sense of responsibility on it,” she said of the provision. “And it is not out of the question that that could be removed.”
The California Democrat said the era of self-regulation for these companies should “probably” end — the latest warning sign for Silicon Valley as Democrats grow increasingly critical of big tech firms and their role in shaping the economy, politics and society.
“I think we have to subject it all to scrutiny and cost-benefits and all that, but I do think that it’s a new era,” she said.
Her comments come as Vera Jourová, the European Union Commissioner for Justice who’s responsible for data privacy, met with senators as well as the US attorney general in Washington this week.
Pelosi said she hasn’t closely studied Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s proposal to break up big companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon, but said “there could be some clear lines that we see in our community, of companies that maybe could be easily broken up without having any impact, one on the other.”
“I’m a big believer in the antitrust laws, I think that’s very important for us to have them and to use them, and to subject those who should be subjected to it. I don’t know how all of these should be painted with the same brush, but I think that’s a look that should be taken.”
Warren released an aggressive plan last month to break up tech giants, targeting the power of Silicon Valley with her populist message as sprawling Internet giants face mounting political backlash ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
The far-reaching proposal would impose new rules on certain kinds of tech companies with $25 billion or more in annual revenue, forcing Amazon and Google to spin off parts of their companies and relinquish their overwhelming control over online commerce. The plan also aims to unwind some of the highest profile mergers in the industry, like the combinations of Amazon and Whole Foods, and Google and DoubleClick, as well as Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp.
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