Oracle Backs Changes to Website Liability Protections

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By Alexis Kramer

Oracle Corp. is backing legislation that would amend a federal law shielding websites from liability for the third-party content, putting it at odds with tech trade groups representing Alphabet Inc.'s Google, Facebook Inc., and other companies that oppose the bills.

The Senate and House bills ( S. 1693, H.R. 1865) by Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.) respectively, would hold websites liable for knowingly publishing content aimed at enabling sex trafficking. The tech groups have argued the measures would chill online speech. Oracle, which focuses on services such as cloud computing and applications, says that fear is unfounded.

“Your legislation does not, as suggested by the bill’s opponents, usher the end of the Internet,” Oracle Senior Vice President Kenneth Glueck wrote in Sept. 5 letters to Portman and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). and to Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.), that the lawmakers released Sept. 6. “If enacted, it will establish some measure of accountability for those that cynically sell advertising but are unprepared to help curtail sex trafficking.”

Lawmakers welcomed Oracle’s support. Portman, Blumenthal and four other senators said in a Sept. 6 statement that Oracle’s backing shows “this simple, bipartisan bill is the right prescription for fixing a fundamental flaw in the law that has enabled online sex traffickers to escape justice.”

Wagner said in a Sept. 6 statement she is “thankful that leaders like Oracle in the big tech industry are supporting the fight against sex trafficking.”

Tech groups are pushing for website liability protections in a renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Portman spokesman Kevin Smith told Bloomberg BNA Sept. 6 that the office has relayed its concerns on the sex trafficking issue to the U.S. Trade Representative.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alexis Kramer in Washington at aKramer@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Keith Perine at kperine@bna.com

For More Information

Oracle's letter to Portman and Blumenthal is available at http://src.bna.com/shD.Oracle's letter to Wagner is available at http://src.bna.com/siL.

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