Senate Commerce to Mark Up Website Liability Bill Nov. 8

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By Alexis Kramer

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Nov. 8 will mark up a bill that would hold websites liable for knowingly publishing content designed to facilitate sex trafficking, committee spokesman Frederick Hill told Bloomberg Law Nov. 1.

The bill, S. 1693, by Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) would amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a 21-year-old statute that shields websites from liability for third-party content. Critics of the bill, including Alphabet Inc.'s Google and other tech companies, have argued that the bill as drafted could cause companies to reduce their efforts to screen for illegal content to avoid knowing that it is on their sites.

“We’re pleased that the committee has announced the markup,” Portman said in a statement. “The hearing in September demonstrated a strong bipartisan consensus for this common-sense bill and the Senate should act with urgency to hold online sex traffickers accountable and give survivors the justice they deserve.”

A similar bill in the House, H.R. 1865, by Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.) has not advanced.

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