Senator Hawley Introduces Bill to Remove Section 230 Immunity from Behavioral Advertisers

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Today U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) announced he will introduce the Behavioral Advertising Decisions Are Downgrading Services (BAD ADS) Act, a bill to remove Section 230 immunity from Big Tech companies that display manipulative, behavioral ads or provide data to be used for them. Senator Hawley’s bill would crack down on behavioral advertising’s negative effects, which include invasive data collection and user manipulation through design choices.

Senator Hawley said, “Big Tech’s manipulative advertising regime comes with a massive hidden price tag for consumers while providing almost no return to anyone but themselves. From privacy violations to harming children to suppression of speech, the ramifications are very real. These kinds of manipulative ads are not what Congress had in mind when passing Section 230, and now is the time to put a stop to this abuse.”

Big Tech companies like Google and Facebook track users, without their consent, to create psychological profiles, which are then used to deliver individually targeted ads. When Congress passed Section 230 a quarter-century ago, legislators could never have imagined the extent of behavioral advertisers’ surveillance and power.

Senator Hawley has been a leading critic of Section 230’s protection of Big Tech firms and recently called for Twitter to lose immunity if it chooses to editorialize on political speech.

Bill text for the BAD ADS Act can be found here. Additional legislation and letters from Senator Hawley’s actions on Big Tech can be found here.