Bloomberg Government reports that Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), chair of the House Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce and Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) plan to introduce a bill that “would require tech companies maintain clear terms of service and consumer protection policies and would amend Section 230 to clarify that the Federal Trade Commission has authority to oversee and enforce tech companies’ terms of service,” according to an advance version of the bill text.schakowsky-bill
“It would be an unfair and deceptive trade practice under the FTC if the companies did not follow their own terms of service,” Schakowsky told Bloomberg Government. “It makes it very clear that Section 230 does not in any way impact the authority of the FTC to hold them accountable.”
In addition to requiring the companies to clarify their terms of service, the bill would require social media companies provide more specific terms on content moderation practices, including what actions prompt moderation and on what grounds, and clarity on how users are notified about and might appeal such decisions. It puts similar requirements on online marketplaces with regard to product provisions.
The bill would also require the FTC to conduct a study that could lead to further, more specific regulations for social media platforms and online marketplaces. It directs social media platforms and online marketplaces to create a “consumer protection program that includes policies, practices and procedures regarding consumer protection and content moderation,” and would appear to put more specific demands on companies to enforce policies and to “mitigate risks that could be harmful to consumer’s safety” and well-being. Companies would be required to make periodic reports regarding compliance with the Act.
Justin Hendrix is CEO and Editor of Tech Policy Press, a new nonprofit media venture concerned with the intersection of technology and democracy. Previously, he was Executive Director of NYC Media Lab. He spent over a decade at The Economist in roles including Vice President, Business Development & Innovation. He is an associate research scientist and adjunct professor at NYU Tandon School of Engineering. Opinions expressed here are his own.