Sen. Hawley plans legislation targeting online firms’ legal immunity

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A Republican senator from Missouri is preparing legislation that would force online giants like Google and Facebook to stop selling certain targeted ads to maintain legal protections — an action that could threaten the business model of internet-based companies, according to a report on Monday.

Sen. Josh Hawley would make it contingent on some platforms to bar advertisers from targeting users based on their browsing history or online activity in order to receive the protections under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which shields online companies from legal liability from third party content, Politico reported.

The 1996 law, called the “26 words that created the internet,” has been criticized by President Trump and his allies who claim social media companies censor conservatives.

Trump last month signed an executive order seeking to add new regulations to the law so that online companies would be treated like publishers — and expose them to more civil liability.

Trump took the action just days after Twitter flagged his posts about fraud involved in voting by mail, adding fact check labels.

Hawley, a Trump congressional ally, discussed the proposal with administration officials, colleagues in the Senate and outside groups, the Politico report said.

He’s expected to introduce the measure in the coming weeks.

Hawley in June 2019 introduced similar legislation that would seek to amend Section 230.

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