Feedback on the “Platform Accountability and Shopper Transparency Act” (the “PACT Act”)

Comments on the “Platform Accountability and Consumer Transparency Act” (the “PACT Act”)

Last month, Sens. Schatz and Thune p. 4066 introduced the "Platform Accountability and Consumer Transparency Act" (the "PACT Act"). The bill was presented as a narrow and modest bipartisan reform of section 230. and Stanford's Daphne Keller described the bill as "intellectually serious effort" and "great progress" compared to other alternatives. While the PACT Act may lack the maliciousness of more extreme Section 230 reform proposals, it is not narrow, humble, or good. Some of the biggest problems with the bill: The bill doesn't seem to solve any problems. his regulatory approach violates the first change; and it creates significant costs for UGC websites that will grow exponentially if the functions of the bill are armed. This is not the reform alternative you are looking for unless you generously evaluate this bill using a curve against the proposals against Section 230.

Overview of the invoice

The bill consists of three main components: dictating procedures for UGC locations (what I call the "Santa Clara Principles"); Reduction of section 230; and request studies.

1) "Santa Clara principles"

The Santa Clara Principles were published together with the Santa Clara University conference on moderation and removal of content in 2018. The Santa Clara Principles encourage UGC websites to improve their disclosure through transparency reports (“Numbers”) and to introduce more appropriate process-like procedures, including the provision of users with notification of the website's editorial decisions (“Notification”) and the right to appeal ("Vocation").

The bill includes a reform package that loosely follows the Santa Clara principles, as well as the obligation to take into account court decisions that make the content / actions illegal. According to the calculation, UGC locations would have to:

  • Adoption of an “Acceptable Use Policy” (AUP) that describes what content is acceptable on the website and what steps the website takes to ensure AUP compliance.
  • Accept notifications of court decisions and complaints about AUP violations via an email address, a web form AND a toll-free, human-occupied telephone number.
  • Providing an "easily accessible" mechanism (probably an automated web tool) for complainants to track their complaints.
  • Honor court decisions within 24 hours of receipt, but only if the court has determined “illegal activity” under federal law or “illegal content” under federal or state defamation law. This would partially override Blockowicz v Williams, Hassell v Bird and some similar decisions.
  • respond to evidence of suspected AUP violations within 14 days.
  • If the UGC website removes content due to a suspected AUP violation identified in a third party complaint, it must (1) provide the content uploader and complainant with an explanation and (2) submit a complaint procedure to the uploader.
  • If the UGC site removes content due to suspected AUP violations for other reasons (e.g. due to human or automated moderation), the uploader can complain to the UGC site, which then has 14 days to review the content (again ?) check to see if this is indeed an AUP violation. In response to this determination, take “suitable measures” and notify the uploader of his decision and the measures he has taken.
  • Publication of an exceptionally detailed quarterly transparency report on an "open license" and in a "machine-readable and open" format.
    • To get an idea of ​​the requirements, here is just one of the reporting requirements: “The number of times that the interactive computer service provider, by its nature, has taken action related to illegal content, illegal activity, or known content that may violate policies than is illegal Content, illegal activity, or known content that is potentially in violation of the policy, including removal of content, demonstration of content, depriorization of content, attachment of rated content, account lockout, account removal or other measures taken in accordance with the Acceptable Use Policy the provider was categorized by: (i) the category of rule violation; (ii) the source of the flag, including government, user, internal automated recognition tool, coordination with other interactive computer service providers, or personnel hired or contracted by the provider; (iii) the country of the information content provider; and (iv) a coordinated campaign, if any. "

The Santa Clara Principles do not apply to providers who offer "web hosting, domain registration, content delivery networks, caching, back-end data storage and cloud management". The transparency report and toll-free number obligations do not apply to “small” UGC websites that have received fewer than 1,000,000 monthly active users or monthly visitors in the “past 24 months (A). and (B) accumulated earnings of less than $ 25 million. “Instead of the 24-hour / 14-day processing time, small UGC locations would have to act within a“ reasonable time ”.

In violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act, the FTC can enforce the provisions on transparency reports and notifications to complainants and uploaders. Enforcement of other Santa Clara principles is not specified in the bill.

2) Changes according to § 230

The bill proposes to amend Section 230 in three ways:

  • In parallel to the affirmative obligation to comply with court decisions, Section 230 (c) (1) does not apply if UGC locations are informed about court decisions (subject to the exclusions mentioned above).
  • Add a new exclusion for enforcement of a "(federal) civil law or executive agency regulations (as defined in Section 105 of Title 5 of the United States Code) or an entity in the federal government's legislative or judicial system." I am mine not sure what exactly an "establishment" is, but this site could help.
  • State corporations can enforce the federal civil law without restriction from § 230.

3) studies

The bill approves two studies:

  • The GAO should examine the cost / benefit of providing protection and awards for whistleblowers to Internet company employees / contractors.
  • NIST should develop voluntary standards for “moderation practices in good faith”. FWIW, the Trust & Safety Professional Association, will provide the infrastructure to improve industry-wide moderation practices without government involvement.

My top 9 concerns (Yes, and I could write so much more)

1) What problems should the bill solve?

This bill contains many different political ideas. It adds several disclosure requirements, regulates different aspects of the website's editorial processes, makes three different changes to section 230, and requests two different studies. Each of these political ideas could in itself represent a significant change in policy. But instead of proposing a close and targeted solution to a well-identified problem, the authors packed this jumble of ideas together to make a comprehensive and comprehensive proposal for a bus reform. The spray-and-pray approach to policy making reveals the lack of confidence that the authors have in knowing how to achieve their goals.

2) What problems do the changes in section 230 solve?

When organizing the Coalition app, Senator Schatz emphasized that Section 230 had to be updated due to its age. For me, that summed up my problem with the bill perfectly – it is trying to do something with section 230, but it lacks clarity as to why section 230 is a quarter of a century old and why the Internet "is different now" (I think that is what he is said). We see in particular the problem solving in connection with the reforms of section 230. What problems should these solve?

First, regarding the removal of content / activity that has been declared illegal by the courts – how often does this problem occur? Virtually every UGC location routinely recognizes court decisions without hesitation, even if it is not required by law. What are the situations in which this does not happen and what evidence suggests that this is a problem? I will address many other concerns regarding the court decision in a moment.

Second, the bill is intended to preclude section 230 of federal civil law enforcement by the federal government. This is puzzling because section 230 rarely restricts the federal government. The few examples stand out for their rarity: HUD encountered a Section 230 defense in its enforcement action against Facebook for discriminatory advertising (it is not clear that Facebook's defense was meritorious); and the FTC occasionally encounters Section 230 defenses although it overcomes them (see e.g. FTC vs. Accusearch; FTC vs. LeadClick). Still, this is not a close change. Federal civil law is massive and extensive, so it is difficult for me to list all the possible consequences of excluding federal civil law from section 230. Legislators should explicitly explain why this exception is necessary, its possible unintended consequences. and if a more specific exception would adequately treat the places (if any) where section 230 is too restrictive.

Third, why are state corporations needed to help enforce the federal civil law newly discovered by § 230? If federal civil law needs to be excluded from 230 (which I don't think is the case), this should be done in two steps: first, relax section 230 for federal civil law; and if this change does not lead to the intended result because the DOJ cannot adequately enforce it, then represent the state AGs to supplement the DOJ. It makes no sense to make both changes at the same time, as FOSTA shows. Among other things, FOSTA partially lifted the restrictions of Section 230 for the actions of state-owned corporations, but I am not aware that a state-owned corporation has so far used this new power. Why was the FOSTA exclusion required? In the meantime, there are good reasons to worry about how government AGs would enforce Section 230. The most critical thing is that state-owned corporations are provincial and that many are elected. Therefore, their motivations – usually unfavorably – differ from the administrative and national focus of the DOJ. I explain these and other concerns in more detail here.

Note: This obviously incorrect “statement” (emphasis added) undermines the credibility of the bill: “Online consumers are not adequately protected in the United States because interactive computer service providers, with the exception of federal criminal law, are immune to the enforcement of most federal laws and regulations. “Excuse me, what? In addition to the exception for federal crimes, § 230 legally excludes federal IP claims (except DTSA) and ECPA claims. In addition, Section 230 does not affect general-purpose laws that are not specific to UGC. See e.g. B. Chicago v StubHub (with a local tax, but the general principle would apply to general-purpose federal laws).

3) Unconstitutional regulation of editorial functions

I generally support the Santa Clara principles as a target for the few big players who can afford them, but I have not subscribed to the principles because I do not believe that the UGC community should be subject to uniform obligations. For this reason, it is easy to like the Santa Clara principles at the same time and not the PACT law. The mandatory principles would impose detailed new requirements small and medium-sized enterprises tcap Even internet giants like Facebook or YouTube will have difficulty meeting each other.

The bill too runs upside down against a huge wall of First Amendment. If mandatory, the Santa Clara principles tell online publishers how to manage their editorial practices, which the government does not allow after the first change. Imagine what it would be like if legislators tried to force book publishers to adhere to the Santa Clara principles, such as:

  • Request to the book publishers to publicly announce which book manuscripts they consider acceptable and which not. Book publishers routinely publish submission standards on a routine basis, but I cannot imagine a medium in which a law requires private publishers to provide such information.
  • Determine how book publishers accept complaints about book content and encourage publishers to provide an easily accessible tracking mechanism for these complaints.
  • require publishers to stop publishing books within 24 hours of the court finding defamatory content (in fact, remember the old maxim that justice does not require defamation, although this principle is not absolute).
  • Complaints regarding books published that do not meet the publisher's submission guidelines will be dealt with within 14 days.
  • Grant book authors a mandatory right to appeal against the rejection of their manuscripts.
  • quarterly reports on the submission of book manuscripts, complaints about published books, etc. (see Washington Post v. McManus).

I am not sure which of these obligations would be constitutional. I don't think any of them. The reality is that most regulators would never go there, even in highly concentrated media niches. I hope that some of my colleagues will do the detailed, time-consuming and tedious work to investigate the unconstitutionality of each of the requirements of the Santa Clara principles.

4) The challenges of complying with court decisions

On the face of it, it sounds appealing to require UGC websites to comply with judgments about illegal content / activities. Stanford's cellar called it "low hanging fruit". We trust the courts as key decision-makers and we trust that they will make better illegality provisions than UGC websites. However, there are good reasons to be skeptical of the proposed law's approach.

First, illegal court orders are a serious problem. There are many ways to play the system. A known approach is to intentionally sue the wrong content uploader, set up a "service", and then get a standard judgment. Some plaintiffs have literally forged court orders. Prof. Volokh has documented dozens of examples. The bill recognizes this risk and stipulates that the plaintiff submitting a court decision must include a reference to the court document and make statements under “penalty of perjury” (a toothless statement, as we do with the obligation to explain) of perjury in 512 (c) (3) notices). As mentioned above, court decisions are already routinely taken into account on UGC websites, so the atmosphere of the draft law on better quality notifications does not reduce game play.

Second, as the EFF explains, the draft law requires UGC sites to take into account the decisions of the lower courts before the defendant has exhausted all of his legal remedies. We saw an example of how premature content removal in Garcia could go wrong against Google when the Ninth Circle dubiously issued a secret court order that forced Google to remove the Muslim Innocence video that the Ninth Circle later made came to the conclusion that it was always legal.

Third, I don't understand how the UGC website is supposed to implement a court decision that content or activity is illegal. The bill appears to be considering that the UGC site's decision will provide a roadmap for the surgical removal of the illegal material, but in reality many orders are unlikely to be specific about what is illegal and how to fix it. The plaintiff's notice on the UGC website is intended to include "(i) dentification of the illegal content or activities and information sufficient to enable the provider to locate the content or any affected account" – but how detailed must this be be? What happens if the plaintiff's instructions do not match the court order or if the instructions are inaccurate and the UGC site has to make a decision about how to implement them? Keep in mind that the UGC site must implement the court decision within 24 hours so that it doesn't have the luxury of asking for clarification.

Two related questions: (1) Does the court order impose ongoing obligations on the UGC site? The draft law states: "Nothing in this paragraph should be interpreted to make the applicability of paragraph (1) to a provider of an interactive computer service dependent on the provider who monitors the interactive computer service or searches for facts that are illegal Indicate content or illegal activity to identify cases of identified activity or content in addition to cases about which the provider has received a notification. “However, the bill requires UGC sites to take account removal into account, which prospectively eliminates all future activity – legitimate or not – from that account. I also wonder how UGC websites will deal with a court order that prospectively prohibits certain content or accounts in the future. Even if this bill says that the UGC site has no ongoing surveillance obligation, will UGC sites feel comfortable ignoring the court order and the risk of being scorned?

(2) The account removal obligation removes all content associated with this account, including legitimate content. Removing accounts and content can result in third-party content that is linked to the removed material, such as: B. Facebook comments on other people's posts being removed. The fact that the bill mandates this collateral damage to legitimate content highlights some of the key initial adjustment and process issues of the bill.

Note: In addition to the mandatory removal requirement, the legislative proposal removes content / activity protection under section 230 (c) (1) identified by court decisions, but section 230 (c) (2) is surgically retained. Section 230 (c) (2) does not generally protect vacation decisions (the only decisions that court decisions in the bill are aimed at), but this distinction still confused me.

Fourth, the bill bypasses the annoying problem of whether the plaintiff has to sue UGC locations under the court order or not. Each approach has drawbacks.

(Note: This issue arises in part because FRCP 65 does not allow courts to issue injunctions against independent parties, but this bill is designed to require UGC sites to comply with court orders that FRCP 65 would not otherwise apply to them Couldn't say whether the FRCP 65 bill changes directly or implicitly, and whether this bill follows the proper procedure for such a change.)

If UGC websites have to be named as defendants in order to be bound by the court decision, UGC websites will be involved in almost every complaint about online content in order to maintain the remedy. This would impose considerable process costs on them.

If UGC locations are not named as defendants, it is an obvious problem to oblige them to comply with judicial decisions in disputes in which they have not participated. For this reason, FRCP 65 restricts who can be bound by a court decision. See Hassell v. Bird, where the plaintiff wrongly tried to tie Yelp to the results of a lawsuit even though it wasn't a defendant in the lawsuit. Notice how the invoice's 24-hour processing time aggravates the process problem, as the UGC site doesn't have time to contest the court decision. 24 hours is not even enough time to carry out a fleeting examination of the legitimacy of the order. If the bill states that the UGC site may have more time "due to concerns about the legality of the notification," this will only occur if gross problems cannot be ignored.

This constraint not only poses problems related to the process, but also highlights the shortcomings of the first change in the invoice. The bill ignores that UGC websites may have their own independent freedom of speech and press freedom when publishing third-party content. I'll take a closer look at this problem in my analysis of California's online eraser law. (There was never a first amendment to this law because everyone ignored it). Omitting UGC locations from the underlying litigation would mean that the court did not adequately consider the independent First Amendment interests of the UGC locations when producing the result (part of the proper process issue).

5) Compliance costs and the small business carveout

The invoice causes compliance costs for UGC locations. To meet the bill, UGC locations would need to revise their UGC processes, create custom software tools, adjust their databases to meet legal requirements, hire new employees to handle all complaints, statements, and complaints, and get new insurance coverage and money for attorneys spend to reformulate their policies and review all compliance obligations.

To lower the cost of complying with Santa Clara principles, UGC locations would cut back as much as possible. The most obvious would be that the UGC locations would make their AUPs as non-specific as possible – a direct violation of the law's alleged transparency goal. The draft law states that AUPs must "adequately inform users" of what content is acceptable. However, since every detail in the AUP creates compliance obligations, lawyers will urge you to disclose as little as possible. Similarly, the explanations are fairly general – how much transparency does it really take to tell an uploader that their content has been removed due to a hate speech violation? And if possible, all interactions (except the toll-free number) are automated and do not involve human interaction. If the invoice allows it, the "reviews" of the contested content will be automated as much as possible, even if the initial editorial decisions have also been automated. (If not, the cost of manual human reviews on request can be overwhelming, especially after the bill is armed as described below.)

In addition, the bill eliminates some small business obligations, but the quantitative standards for determining eligibility for small businesses are poorly interpreted:

  • The traffic gauge is 1 million "monthly active users or monthly visitors". How are months measured – calendar months or a 30 day period? How are "visitors" counted – are they unique visitors or repeated visits? No matter; "Monthly Visitors" are always larger than "Monthly Active Users", so MAUs are the only relevant test.
  • There is a 24-month lookback period for the traffic measuring stick. The calculation does not differentiate between averages and maxima. In the latter case, a small UGC site with seasonal spikes or a single virus hit faces a variety of compliance obligations.
  • Is there a phase-in-phase? Or does a UGC site have to meet the requirements immediately after the numerical threshold is exceeded?
  • The sales scale is longer than 24 months, not the more typical annual measure. The $ 25 million standard is more like $ 12.5 million a year.
  • The turnover covers the entire company, not just the UGC functions. A large company with a small UGC offering will therefore clarify the standard, even if the UGC offering is not an integral part of the business. A good example would be online retailers where buyers can comment on items sold. The bill would encourage large companies with small UGC features to shut down the UGC component because of the cost.
  • The bill applies when a UGC site meets either the traffic or revenue benchmarks. Therefore, a UGC site will fail from the small business exception if it generates more than 1 million MAUs or $ 25 million in revenue over a 2-year period.

For reasons that are unclear to me, billers routinely have difficulty distinguishing larger from smaller UGC locations. Small business carveouts don't heal bad political ideas, but they don't do anything useful if they're not properly designed. Any attempt to distinguish large from small Internet services should include at least the following:

  • require the regulated company to perform both transport and revenue measures, not just one or the other. Otherwise, the outsourcing leads to false alarms for locations with low sales but high leverage and for large companies with a small UGC presence.
  • Use MAUs as a measure of traffic, but only if they are averaged over a sufficiently long period of time to avoid seasonal / viral peaks.
  • Measure only the revenue from the UGC function, not the entire company – for example, the UGC tools of a newspaper – and not the total revenue, including print subscriptions.
  • Provide adequate phase-in time after both measurements are taken.

The Santa Clara principles of the bill may apply to nonprofit UGC sites (the bill expressly says so) and UGC sites without revenue. It is confusing to see that non-commercial and non-revenue services are included in the FTC authority under Section 5.

Since the invoice reaches every UGC location, even the smallest, many locations will leave the UGC branch. For example, I would probably close blog comments instead of creating a complaint tracking system. The costs also increase entry barriers, discourage new entrants and consolidate the position of established companies. The bill claims that it is our country's policy to "preserve the Internet and other interactive computer services as forums for the diversity of political discourse, unique opportunities for cultural development, and countless opportunities for intellectual and commercial activity," but this bill is one hard step the other way.

6) Gun complaints and the decline in automated editorial practices

The bill unspokenly assumes that notices to the UGC site (e.g., a third party notice of a suspected AUP violation or an uploader protesting the removal of its content) are legitimate. At this point in the history of the Internet, this assumption is not credible. The invoice recognizes that "the user can submit a complaint in good faith" through the required notification systems. However, the invoice does not explain what happens if the complaint is not filed in good faith. Can the UGC site simply ignore this without legal consequences? Who knows.

Der Gesetzentwurf hätte weitere Einzelheiten für die Übermittlung von Mitteilungen enthalten können, wie die Anforderungen von Abschnitt 512 (c) (3) (einschließlich der genauen Angabe des Ortes des angeblich AUP-verletzenden Inhalts) und bedeutende rechtliche Konsequenzen für gefälschte Mitteilungen (nicht wie) der zahnlose 512 (f)). Es ist sinnvoll, die Benachrichtigungskosten auch nur minimal zu erhöhen, und alle obligatorischen Voraussetzungen würden dazu beitragen, dass die UGC-Site nicht konforme Benachrichtigungen aussortiert. Die Rechnung scheint zu berücksichtigen, dass UGC-Websites ihre Web-Aufnahmeformulare mit Pflichtfeldern strukturieren können, dies hat jedoch keine Auswirkungen auf Mitteilungen, die über die erforderlichen E-Mail- und gebührenfreien Einlasssysteme gesendet werden.

Diese Funktionen des Santa Clara-Prinzips sind leicht zu bewaffnen. Einige der vielen möglichen Möglichkeiten:

  • Ein Benutzer könnte einen mutmaßlichen AUP-Verstoß einreichen, der besagt, dass „der Inhalt der Website mich diffamiert“. Die Rechnung sieht vor, dass UGC-Websites den Inhalt überprüfen müssen – vermutlich die gesamte Website, da in der Beschwerde kein einzelner Inhalt angegeben wurde. Multiplizieren Sie dies mit Tausenden oder Millionen ahnungsloser und böswilliger ähnlicher Benachrichtigungen. What now?
  • Eine koordinierte Gruppe von Angreifern könnte einen Site-Autor ansprechen, Beschwerden über jeden einzelnen Beitrag einreichen und die Site dazu zwingen, jeden einzelnen Post des Zielautors auf AUP-Verstöße zu überprüfen. Irgendwann könnten die Kosten für die Aufbewahrung dieses Autors unerschwinglich sein (etwas, das mit ziemlicher Sicherheit für Redner aus marginalisierten Gemeinschaften anfallen würde). Dies gilt insbesondere dann, wenn die Angreifer die gebührenfreie Nummer verwenden können, um die Kosten des Unternehmens zu senken und den Überprüfungsprozess zu binden.
  • Da AUP-Richtlinien IP-Verstöße von Benutzern sicherlich einschränken, werden IP-Eigentümer das System mit den Robo-Benachrichtigungen überfluten, die sie bereits generieren. Mehr dazu gleich.
  • Ein Übermittler von böswilligen Inhalten kann wie ein Spammer eine Überprüfung für jedes einzelne entfernte Element verlangen. Wenn ein Spammer Millionen gefilterter Elemente einreicht, kann der Spammer Millionen von Bewertungen verlangen. Spammer tun dies möglicherweise für Scheiße und Kichern, aber es ist auch eine Möglichkeit, die Kosten einer gezielten UGC-Site zu erhöhen. Dies stellt eine erhebliche Bedrohung für alle Prozesse der Inhaltsmoderation dar.

Jedes außergerichtliche Benachrichtigungsverfahren, wie z. B. 512 (c) (3) Mitteilungen und andere Arten von NOCIs, wird mit Waffen versehen, daher werden natürlich auch die Funktionen des Gesetzentwurfs mit Waffen versehen.

7) Das Zusammenspiel des Gesetzes mit Abschnitt 512 und anderen Gesetzen

In der Rechnung werden die Kündigungs- und Abschaltungsverfahren in Abschnitt 512 überhaupt nicht erwähnt. Gemäß den 512 Voraussetzungen sind AUPs im Wesentlichen verpflichtet, Urheberrechtsverletzungen zu verbieten (512 besagt, dass Websites Benutzer über ihre Richtlinien für wiederholte Verstöße informieren müssen). Dies bedeutet, dass Urheberrechtsinhaber gleichzeitig die DMCA-Verfahren und die Funktionen der Santa Clara Principles dieser Rechnung nutzen können. That means:

  • Alle UGC-Websites müssten Urheberrechtsinhabern eine Möglichkeit bieten, den Status ihrer 512 (c) (3) -Nachrichten einfach zu verfolgen. Angesichts der Millionen von Robo-Mitteilungen, die bereits gesendet wurden, klingt dies für viele UGC-Standorte nach einem erheblichen Engineering-Aufwand.
  • Alle UGC-Websites müssten mutmaßliche Urheberrechtsverletzungen untersuchen (laut Gesetz muss die Website „den Inhalt überprüfen (und) feststellen, ob der Inhalt den Richtlinien des Anbieters zur akzeptablen Nutzung entspricht“). Dies ändert implizit das DMCA-Benachrichtigungs- und Deaktivierungsschema, mit dem Dienstanbieter Deaktivierungsbenachrichtigungen honorieren oder ignorieren können, ohne überhaupt Nachforschungen anzustellen (obwohl diese Entscheidungen Auswirkungen auf die Haftung haben können).
  • Die Rechnung verlangt auch, dass UGC-Websites „feststellen, ob der Inhalt den Richtlinien des Anbieters zur akzeptablen Nutzung entspricht; und (iii) geeignete Schritte auf der Grundlage der unter Ziffer (ii) getroffenen Feststellung unternehmen. “ Dies überlagert das Kündigungs- und Abschaltungsschema, indem eine 14-tägige Abwicklungsfrist geschaffen wird. im Gegensatz zu der Voraussetzung der DMCA für eine „schnelle“ Reaktion. Ich denke, die meisten Leute würden heutzutage sagen, dass 14 Tage keine schnelle Antwort sind (siehe z. B. Feingold v. RageOn, dass eine 18-tägige Bearbeitungszeit nicht schnell war). aber das PACT-Gesetz würde einen harten Stopp schaffen.
  • Im Gegensatz zu 512 (c) (3) könnten Urheberrechtsinhaber mit der Gesetzesvorlage Beschwerden einreichen, die so allgemein sind wie "Ihre Website enthält Inhalte, die mein Urheberrecht verletzen", und UGC-Websites dazu zwingen, diese unspezifischen Beschwerden zu überprüfen. Jeder Urheberrechtsinhaber wird dies lieben. Dies wäre eine großartige Ergänzung zu den von ihnen gesendeten 512 (c) (3) -Nachrichten, und die vom PACT-Gesetz geforderten Überprüfungen könnten tatsächliches Wissen oder rote Fahnen für Verstöße schaffen, die die UGC-Site von den 512 sicheren Häfen ausschließen.

In der Rechnung wird auch nicht auf die Wechselwirkungen mit dem Gegenüberstellungsverfahren nach 512 (g) eingegangen. Zusätzlich zu oder anstelle des 512 (g) -Verfahrens könnte ein Uploader, der beschuldigt wird, urheberrechtsverletzendes Material veröffentlicht zu haben, mit einem PACT Act-Rechtsbehelf antworten. Dies würde den UGC-Standort jedoch in eine schlechtere Lage bringen. Gemäß 512 (g) kann der UGC-Standort die beanstandete Arbeit ohne weitere Untersuchung wiederherstellen. Nach dem PACT-Gesetz muss die UGC-Website den Einspruch prüfen, eine Entscheidung treffen und den Inhalts-Uploader UND den Inhaber des Urheberrechts über die Feststellung informieren. Was ergibt sich, wenn die UGC-Site nach Überprüfung zu dem Schluss kommt, dass der Uploader tatsächlich einen Verstoß darstellt, und die UGC-Site dem Urheberrechtsinhaber diese Schlussfolgerung mitteilt? Where 512(g) would have kicked this issue completely over to the courts, the UGC site is likely to pull the content–despite the counternotification & 512(g) terms–to avoid hosting infringing content that it has concluded likely infringes. All of these troubles can be avoided if the content uploader only files a 512(g) counternotice and not a PACT Act appeal. Did the bill authors really intend to create a mechanism that would make users worse off compared to the existing baseline?

More generally, the bill overlays a massive range of laws that already cover similar ground, and it does little or nothing to harmonize with those laws. Some other examples:

  • We generally assume that non-copyright IPs are subject to a common-law notice-and-takedown requirement, but without the DMCA’s specificity. How would the PACT Act requirements affect that common-law scheme? At a minimum, IP owners would get a complaint tracking system and a guaranteed response within 14 days (the common-law scheme may already require shorter reaction times–not sure). It’s unclear how a UGC site would evaluate a content uploader’s appeal. 512(g) provides an immunity for restoring content when the prerequisites are met, but the common law doesn’t–so UGC sites would regularly side against the content uploader at the peril of creating liability to the IP owner. I’m also unclear about the risks of the process to trade secret owners alleging misappropriation. Could the required explanation to the content uploader reveal what items are actually trade secrets…?
  • With respect to third-party complaints asserting that content qualifies as child sexual abuse material (CSAM), the bill would require the UGC site to notify the uploader that it removed the content as CSAM. If the uploader knows anything about the law, this will tip off the uploader that the matter has been referred to NCMEC and likely to law enforcement. That would give the uploader a heads-up to take affirmative steps to mask their tracks for law enforcement. (The bill says that the UGC site doesn’t have to provide an explanation if there is a known “ongoing law enforcement investigation,” but that does not describe a NCMEC referral). Could the bill actually aid CSAM criminals???

8) Opening the Door to State-Level Variations. One of Section 230’s strengths is that it eliminates state law variation, a boon for UGC sites that necessarily have users across the country. The uniformity of federal law lets UGC sites worry only about one law–Section 230–plus the mostly federal nature of the Section 230 exclusions (such as federal criminal law and, in some jurisdictions, only federal IP claims).

To their credit, the bill drafters generally sought to preserve this benefit by focusing on federal law. Despite that, the bill opens up UGC sites to state law variation in two important ways. First, as discussed above, it would expose them to new enforcements by state AGs with heterogeneous motivations and disparate interpretations of the law. Second, the bill opens up Section 230 to court decisions on state defamation law–an area with significant variation among the states.

9) Is There a Private Right of Action for the Santa Clara Principles?

The bill’s Santa Clara Principles obligations (Section 5 of the bill) aren’t assigned to a specific part of the US code. I’m not sure what default enforcement options apply to them. Some violations of the Santa Clara Principles “shall be treated as a violation of a rule defining an unfair or deceptive act or practice” in the FTC Act. Normally, Section 5 of the FTC Act does not authorize private rights of action. However, the bill does not make those portions exclusively subject to FTC enforcement. The other parts are not enforceable by the FTC. So who has enforcement authority? Would the entire Santa Clara Principles be subject to a private right of action? That would be devastating because the bill requirements are detailed/technical and govern literally trillions of content decisions, so the volume of litigable questions could be enormous.


Some of the problems I identify could be fixed relatively easily. For example, the bill could add minimum specifications for notices complaining about user content (similar to 512(c)(3)), exclude copyright notices from its scope, and expressly eliminate any private right of action for the Santa Clara Principles. Those fixes seem so obvious to me that I don’t understand how the drafters introduced the bill without them. Still, minor tweaks won’t fix the bill’s architecture. Even with easy fixes, it will remain overstuffed with too many policy ideas, not enough clarity on the problems it seeks to fix, and intrinsic incompatibility with the First Amendment. As much as I’d love to give some love to the bill sponsors for their efforts, I cannot support this bill.


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