Read the full article by Michael French at AVN.com

Section 230 protections, considered the foundation of online communication, are now included.

The efforts by Congress to hack away at Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the legal provision considered by online freedom advocates to be the foundation of the internet as it exists in the United States today, now appear to be extending to U.S. trade agreements with foreign countries. Lawmakers from both parties in Congress yesterday attacked the new trade agreement with Mexico and Canada for including language similar to Section 230, according to a Washington Post report.

Section 230 is a key provision of the law that shields online platforms and service providers from civil or criminal liability for posts or actions by third parties using their services. The law protects, for example, Facebook from the need to monitor every single post on its giant social media platform for possibly illegal content or activity.

But with last year’s passage of the FOSTA/SESTA bill—supposedly aimed at curbing online sex trafficking—Congress took the first step toward eroding Section 230’s safeguards, as AVN.com reported. Under the new law, platforms—such as online classified ad sites—could be held to account for activity on their sites that allegedly promotes “sex trafficking.”

So far, courts have upheld Section 230 provisions in a few key court cases. But in June of this year, first-term Republican Senator Josh Hawley introduced a bill that would wipe out Section 230 altogether, severely restricting free expression on the internet.

Two new trade deals, the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) and an earlier trade deal signed with Japan, however, include language similar to Section 230 that would extend those liability protections to such online giants as Google or Twitter doing business in those countries—and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle said as yesterday’s hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee that they are not happy about it.