Senator Hawley Bill Would Mandate Algorithmic Transparency, Limit 230 Immunity
June 20, 2019
Senator Hawley (R-MO) has introduced the "Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act." The Act would require big tech companies to submit to an external audit that proves that their algorithms and content-removal practices are politically neutral. The bill would remove the immunity big tech companies receive under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act if the FTC found that the algorithms and content-removal practices were not neutral. In 2007 EPIC explained to the Senate Judiciary Committee that after Google acquired YouTube, Google substituted its own subjective algorithm based on "relevance" for objective criteria, such as number of hits and user ratings. The practical consequence was to elevate the rankings of Google's own web pages and to demote the ranking of other web pages, including EPIC's. EPIC subsequently launched a campaign for algorithmic transparency and urged federal agencies and Congress to mandate algorithmic transparency.