U.S. Attorney General William Barr has proven to be a fierce opponent to Facebook. He has repeatedly challenged the social media giant on issues of data and privacy, pressing it to stop its end-to-end encryption plans for Messenger in order to give law enforcement officials a backdoor. And earlier this week, in a series of bold public comments at a Department of Justice workshop, he threatened the legal shield that Facebook and many other tech companies have long hidden behind.
According to Barr, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act gives tech companies too broad of a legal protection against user lawsuits. He suggested that these companies may one day have to be held liable for the content on their platforms.
“Online services… have evoked [legal] immunity even where they solicited or encouraged unlawful conduct, shared in illegal proceeds or helped perpetrators hide from law enforcement,” Barr said.
He went on to note that Facebook’s priority will always be profit first, so it falls upon lawmakers to ensure that the company protects its users.
“In addressing the myriad of online harms today we must remember: The goal of firms is to maximize profit while the mission of the government is to protect American citizens and society,” he said.
Barr’s intrusions into Facebook aren’t always privacy-friendly, but in this case, it’s a positive for users. The more people are able to hold the company accountable, the better.
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