Top Democrat speaks to Biden staff about key internet law


Committee chairman Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) questions witnesses during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., February 23, 2021. Drew Angerer/Pool via REUTERS/Files

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senator Mark Warner said on Monday he has been talking to President Joe Biden's staff about Section 230 - a law protecting tech companies - and expects his recent legislation to reform the law to find a Republican co-sponsor.

The bill would make U.S. social media companies like Alphabet Inc's Google, Twitter Inc and Facebook Inc more accountable for allegedly enabling cyber-stalking, targeted harassment and discrimination on their platforms by amending Section 230, which protects tech platforms from liability over content users post.

In February, Warner, who chairs the U.S. Senate Intelligence committee, introduced a bill with Democratic Senators Amy Klobuchar and Mazie Hirono called the Safe Tech Act.

"I have a hope and expectation that our legislation will shortly become bipartisan," Warner said, without giving details. He made his comments on a public panel hosted by tech publication Protocol.

Warner also said he has spoken to Biden's staff and that they are interested in having a debate on Section 230. The White House, Warner said, is still developing its broader position on technology policy.

During the campaign, Biden had said he supported Section 230 being revoked. His staff has since indicated he is keen to hearing different arguments on the topic.

There are several pieces of legislation from Democrats to reform Section 230 that are doing the rounds in Congress. Several Republican lawmakers have also been pushing separately to scrap the law entirely over decisions by tech platforms to moderate content.

The chief executives of Google, Twitter and Facebook have previously said the law is crucial to free expression on the internet and gives them the tools to strike a balance between preserving free speech and moderating content.

(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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