Sneaky, Sneaky, Sneaky
The Journalism Competition Preservation Act (JCPA) won’t go away. Now, there are reports that some are attempting to attach it to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), since it has failed to gain traction the last two years. The NDAA is a crucial bill for congress to pass, hence the hidden-not-hidden attempt to attach it.
The current version also has some new changes, which make it worse than its previous version. As I’ve written before, the JCPA is a bill designed to create a “link-tax” on tech companies that share news articles. So, even if an article is shared on the platform user-to-user, the companies would be required to pay outlets for it. “[The] bill unjustly punishes the tech giants by making it prop up an industry that has largely failed to address its business problems and has been decaying for decades,” writes Jack Shafer.
This would be government unfairly stepping in and fundamentally changing business models, tipping the scale in favor of one industry and against another.
The most recent form of the bill goes beyond this, however, and would force companies to carry publishers that violate their user agreements. This means that Google would have to carry radical publishers from both fringes of the political spectrum.
JCPA presents a similar problem as the Open App Markets Act, which aims to force tech companies to host all apps in their app marketplaces. If you force these companies to be less judicious in the apps they allow in their stores, they face a catch-22: either host an app that has potentially dangerous malware and be sued for negligence or refuse to host it and be sued for refusing to host it.
The same applies here: either host a publisher with radical views who uses language that violates the First Amendment or face a lawsuit.
JCPA is also similar to the state level laws of Texas and Florida, which would essentially force tech companies to host individual user content that it deems violates its user policy.
This opens the door for bad actors across the spectrum.