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Grass on drug dealers, Senators urge online platforms

Image credit: Marilyn Gould - Dreamstime

According to a Reuters report, US senators have introduced the 'See Something, Say Something Online Act', which aims to prevent the sale of opiods and illicit drugs online by forcing online platforms to report suspicious user activity.

The legislation has been introduced by Democratic Senator Joe Manchin and Republican Senator John Cornyn. It would force internet platforms such as Facebook and Google to report suspicious user activity to law enforcement or risk being held liable. This would target the sale of opioids and illicit drugs.

The bill would involve an amendment to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which is considered a founding principle of the internet and which protects companies from liability over content posted by users on their online platforms. This immunity has been partially eroded by legislation such as the controversial FOSTA-SESTA bills, which make platforms which knowingly facilitate sex trafficking liable.

“Each year, authorities seize enough fentanyl to kill every American four times over, much of it ordered over the internet and sent by mail from China. We must amend Section 230 to reflect the way the internet impacts our lives today,” said Manchin in a statement.

Manchin said that when companies do take action against drug dealers on their platforms, they tend to just delete the content rather than passing it on to the appropriate authorities, making it difficult to stop bad actors.

“It is past time to hold these sites accountable and for them to say something when they see something online,” he wrote.

There are currently several pieces of legislation targeting Section 230, including a bill introduced last year by Republican tech hawk Josh Hawley which would require tech companies to undergo external audits to prove that they are politically neutral in order to retain immunity.

US President Donald Trump has also threatened to scrap or weaken Section 230, accusing online companies of censoring conservative viewpoints. Although Trump signed an executive order to this effect in May after Twitter placed a fact-check warning on one of his tweets, it is considered highly unlikely to pass into law. However, Trump met with nine Republican attorneys-general last week in order to discuss the future of Section 230.

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