US senators propose bill to eliminate section 230 protection for AI companies

U.S. Senators Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) recently proposed a Senate bill on June 14 that would revoke the special immunities granted to Artificial Intelligence (AI) businesses under the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (CDA), which are currently afforded to online computer service providers.

Section 230 is a provision located in Title 47, Section 230 of the CDA. It safeguards online service providers from being held accountable for any content that users post. Additionally, it grants providers immunity from being charged for any unlawful material, assuming that they make a sincere effort to remove it once it has been discovered.

Those who oppose Section 230 have claimed that it exempts social media websites and other online service providers from being held liable for the material they display. Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to alter Section 230 in response to a lawsuit where the plaintiffs aimed to make social media firms responsible for any harm caused by purportedly hosting and advertising terrorist-related material.

As stated in the ruling of the high court, a social media platform cannot be held responsible for the recommendations generated by the algorithms it employs to display content any more than an email or cellular provider can be held accountable for the material sent through their services.

At present, it is uncertain if Section 230 applies to generative AI firms like OpenAI and Google, who are the developers of ChatGPT and Bard respectively.

At a recent Senate hearing, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman informed U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham that he believed Section 230 did not apply to his company. When questioned further by Hawley, asking what Altman thought of a hypothetical situation in which Congress “opened the courthouse doors” and allowed people who had been hurt by AI to take legal action, the CEO replied, “I apologize for my lack of knowledge, but could people sue us?”

Although there is no specific mention of generative AI in Section 230, it is possible that further considerations about its relation to generative AI technologies may depend on the interpretation of the term “online service.”

The returns on crypto related to AI increased by up to 41% following the launch of ChatGPT.

The GPT API, for instance, serves as the foundation of numerous AI services utilized in the cryptocurrency and blockchain sectors. If Section 230 applies to generative AI systems, it could prove challenging to impose responsibility on businesses or people for any damage caused by incorrect information or bad advice produced by AI.

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