During her appearance at the “Disinformation and Erosion of Democracy” conference, Senator Amy Klobuchar refused to answer a question about whether her Health Misinformation Act would result in the statement “there are only two sexes, male and female” being banned from Big Tech platforms.
Klobuchar’s bill was introduced in July 2021 and would reduce the scope of the civil liability immunity online platforms receive under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act if passed.
Currently, Section 230 gives online platforms and other “interactive computer services” immunity from civil liability if they act in “good faith” to restrict access to content that they or their users deem to be “obscene” or “objectionable.” Klobuchar’s bill would remove this immunity for platforms that use algorithms to promote “health misinformation” that’s “related to an existing public health emergency, as declared by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.”
At the Disinformation and Erosion of Democracy conference, Evita Duffy, co-founder and managing editor of The Chicago Thinker, pressed Klobuchar on how health misinformation would be defined under this bill.
“If I were to say that there are only two sexes, male and female, would that be considered misinformation that you think should be banned speech on social media platforms?” Duffy said.
Klobuchar responded by refusing to address the question.
“I’m not going to get into what misinformation,” Klobuchar said.
Klobuchar continued by insisting that the bill applies specifically to “vaccine misinformation” in a “public health crisis.”
While Klobuchar claimed that the bill is limited to so-called vaccine misinformation, the Health Misinformation Act’s proposal to amend Section 230 doesn’t actually mention vaccine misinformation. Instead, it proposes that providers of online platforms should be “treated as the publisher or speaker of health misinformation…if the provider promotes that health misinformation through an algorithm.”
Additionally, health misinformation isn’t defined in the bill; the power to define this pivotal term is handed over to the Secretary of Health and Human Services who will consult with “the heads of other relevant federal agencies and outside experts” when coming up with the definition.
The bill didn’t have the support of a single Republican when it was announced. Center-left tech policy activism group Chamber of Progress also warned that Democrats would “regret” the bill and that it would “turn future Republican Presidents into the speech police.”