On Wednesday, immediately following his rejection of the covid-19 relief bill, President Donald Trump has also vetoed the 740 billion dollar defense spending bill, the National Defense Authorization Act, for failing to address changes to Section 230, an element Trump has demanded numerous times.
“I will Veto the Defense Bill, which will make China very unhappy. They love it. Must have Section 230 termination, protect our National Monuments and allow for removal of military from far away, and very unappreciative, lands. Thank you!” Trump tweeted.
Trump also opposed measures that would require the Pentagon to rename military bases and other assets dubbed after members of the Confederacy. Tweeting in June, “My Administration will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations. Our history as the Greatest Nation in the World will not be tampered with. Respect our Military!”
Since passed with veto-proof majorities in both chambers of Congress, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell included a contingency plan to override Trump’s veto, with a vote scheduled in the Senate on December 29th.
“My intention was and is to ensure the Senate continues fulfilling our obligation to the men and women of our armed forces. I hope the president will not veto this bill,” McConnell said during remarks on the Senate floor on Tuesday
“In the event that President Trump does elect to veto this bipartisan bill, it appears the House may choose to return after the holidays to set up a vote to consider the veto,” he added. “In the event that the president has vetoed the bill, and the House has voted to override the veto, the Senate would have the opportunity to process a veto override at that time.”
The central sticking point for Trumpo, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, originally intended to foster the growth of the young internet, guarantees protections for internet platforms from liability for misinformation or offensive posts published on their platforms while also allowing them to curate and censor content that could be deemed obscene or objectionable, including posts like threats or pornography. However, Section 230 wasn’t designed for the possibility that social media platforms have near-total control of the flow of information and, as time has gone on, has allowed social media platforms to now curate “misinformation”.
As seen in instances such as Twitter’s overt suppression of a New York Post story reporting on a laptop owned by Hunter Biden that revealed how far the Biden family went to enrich itself, the definition of “misinformation” has been stretched and mangled to include political speech that the platforms simply disagree with. But, protected under Section 230’s powers to curate their platforms, legal action cannot be taken. And, with Trump’s administration almost certainly coming to a close, the struggle against Big Tech’s stranglehold on the flow of information and their abusive censorhip needs to be won before Biden takes the Oath of Office.
The defense bill, which fails to include reforms of Section 230, looks to be Trump’s final opportunity to chip away at Big Tech and begin to hold them accountable for reprehensible and, frankly, dangerous suppression of essential information. Those who control the flow of information control how we think. The power Big Tech possesses should be terrifying, total dominion on public opinion. And platforms such as Twitter and Facebook cannot be trusted with that power.
While it may not seem directly linked with national security, public opinion regarding our enemies will decide our success in defeating them. Without the public believing China to be an enemy (a decision Big Tech holds solely in their hands), any action taken against them will receive incredible scrutiny, interfering with the battle and, ultimately, leaving us vulnerable. If truly about defense, any defense bill must include restrictions on Section 230. And, in his final weeks, Trump must ensure the fight against Big Tech can be allowed to continue, even when he leaves Office.