At a glance.
- US Justice Department recommendations on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
- The Limiting Section 230 Immunity to Good Samaritans Act.
- DPRK cyber capabilities and intentions.
- Calls for DHS cyber oversight of the US Intelligence Community.
- Team Telecom recommends against a Hong Kong connection.
US Justice Department issues its recommendations on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
The US Justice Department yesterday issued its review of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Section 230 has generally served to shield Internet platforms from various forms of civil and criminal liability. The Department recommends four categories of reform that it says would bring the balance of various interests into line with the ways the Internet has evolved since the law was passed in 1996.
The revisions would “incentivize online platforms to address illicit content,” denying Section 230 protection to genuine bad actors, carving out exceptions for terrorism, child abuse, and cyber-stalking, and for “case-specific carve-outs” that would remove protection from platforms that knew, in a specific case, that third-party content was illicit.
The proposed revision would also clarify Federal civil enforcement capabilities, promote competition, and “promoting open discourse and greater transparency” by replacing “vague terminology” and defining “good faith.” As the Department's announcement puts it:
"The Department of Justice has concluded that the time is ripe to realign the scope of Section 230 with the realities of the modern internet. Reform is important now more than ever. Every year, more citizens—including young children—are relying on the internet for everyday activities, while online criminal activity continues to grow. We must ensure that the internet is both an open and safe space for our society. Based on engagement with experts, industry, thought-leaders, lawmakers, and the public, the Department has identified a set of concrete reform proposals to provide stronger incentives for online platforms to address illicit material on their services, while continuing to foster innovation and free speech."
The Wall Street Journal offers some historical context for the passage and effects of what the Journal calls "the defining law of the Internet age."
A bill to revise Section 230 is introduced in the US Senate.
Axios reports that Senator Josh Hawley (Republican of Missouri) has introduced a bill, the Limiting Section 230 Immunity to Good Samaritans Act, that would make Section 230 protections conditional upon a company's adopting terms of service that pledge to operate in good faith and that detail their content moderation policies. Gizmodo thinks the bill won't "make Silicon Valley sweat" because it simply requires companies to establish and adhere to standards.
North Korea's cyber capabilities and intentions.
Business Insider is running a long interview with Daniel Russel, vice president for international security and diplomacy at the Asia Society Policy Institute and a former assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. Russell outlines the development of Pyongyang's cyberwar organization, including some early assistance received from Russia and China, and describes its close connection with the country's nuclear forces. He also notes that international sanctions have been relatively ineffectual against the growth of the seven-thousand-strong cyber force, and asserts that it's preparing for attacks against Western (and particularly US) infrastructure.
CIA WikiLeaks Task Force report prompts calls for DHS cyber oversight of civilian intelligence agencies.
Or at least of the US civilian intelligence agencies, like CIA and FBI. Presumably the military intelligence agencies like DIA will continue to be looked after by NSA. Nextgov reports that Senator Wyden (Democrat of Oregon) has written the Director of National Intelligence to request an explanation of why the Intelligence Community hasn't implemented the kinds of security measures the Department of Homeland Security has brought to much of the rest of the Government. Technology Review has an account of the "lax security" the task force described.
Team Telecom recommends against a Hong Kong connection.
Team Telecom, the US Government interagency task force recently criticized as asleep at the switch with respect to Chinese companies' assumption of significant market share in the US, has weighed in on the Pacific Light Cable Network. The BBC reports that Team Telecom recommended approval of the sections that connect the US with Taiwan and the Philippines, but recommended against bringing the connection to Hong Kong online. That connection would involve working with a Chinese firm, the Dr Peng Group. According to the BBC, Team Telecom offered four reasons for not connecting to Hong Kong:
- "China's "sustained efforts to acquire the sensitive personal data of millions of US persons'"
- "China's "access to other countries' data through both digital infrastructure investments'"
- "The Dr Peng Group's 'relationship with Chinese intelligence and security services, and its obligations under Chinese intelligence and cyber-security laws'"
- "China's 'recent actions to remove Hong Kong's autonomy and allow for the possibility that Chinese intelligence and security services will operate openly in Hong Kong'"
A final decision now rests with the Federal Communications Commission.