The Justice Department plans to propose changes to Section 230, a law that protects tech companies from being held liable for the content of people's posts on their platforms.
An executive order issued last month by President Donald Trump called on federal agencies to crack down on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Now the Justice Department could take action as soon as today, but the proposal would need to go through Congress to become law.
The laws are designed to spur online platforms to become more "aggressive in addressing illicit and harmful conduct on their sites, and to be fairer and more consistent in their decisions to take down content they find objectionable," The Wall Street Journal reported, citing a Trump administration official.
The proposal would remove legal protections when platforms facilitate or solicit third-party content that violates federal criminal law such as online scams and trafficking in illicit drugs. It also would "confer immunity to platforms in instances involving online child exploitation and sexual abuse, terrorism or cyberstalking" that allow victims to take action against injustice.
As protections for tech companies are scaled back, the Justice Department will make it clear through these changes that tech platforms will not have immunity in civil-enforcement actions brought by the federal government or use immunity as a defense against antitrust claims that they removed content for anticompetitive reasons, the WSJ also states.
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 ensured that tech platforms are not legally liable for the actions of their users, except in some instances.