New bipartisan bill would force Big Tech to give researchers internal data

FBI Director Christopher Wray speaks during an interview with The Associated Press, Monday, Dec. 9, 2019, in Washington. Wray says the problems found by the Justice Department watchdog examining the origins of the Russia probe are “unacceptable.” (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) Jacquelyn Martin/AP

New bipartisan bill would force Big Tech to give researchers internal data

Christopher Hutton

December 21, 02:19 PM December 21, 02:19 PM

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New bipartisan legislation would force Big Tech companies to hand over internal data to third-party researchers.

The Platform Accountability and Transparency Act introduced Wednesday would require companies such as YouTube, TikTok, and Facebook to provide data to federally funded research projects, a measure the bill’s authors say would improve transparency among the tech giants.


“Right now, there is a dangerous lack of transparency about how these platforms impact our children, families, society, or national security,” said Sen. Christopher Coons (D-DE), a co-sponsor of the bill. “Does TikTok promote or suppress posts in the Chinese Communist Party’s interest? Do platforms recommend harmful or addictive content to vulnerable users?”

The bill was also cosponsored by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Bill Cassidy (R-LA).

The bill was initially introduced as a discussion draft in December 2021. It would ask the National Science Foundation to approve “qualified” research proposals — provided they meet privacy standards established by the Federal Trade Commission. If a company fails to comply with the requests, it could be charged with deceptive conduct or even risk its Section 230 status, which protects companies from being held legally liable for content posted by users on their platform.

The legislation would also implement practices to protect researchers from legal repercussions and require tech companies to disclose public data regularly regarding viral content, content moderation, and advertising.

READ MORE:  Biden gives agencies 30 days to ban Chinese-owned app TikTok

Coons intends to get the proposal marked up in the next term.

Congress incorporated several tech-related bills in the past week as part of the omnibus spending bill, which is expected to pass. The bills include a ban on installing TikTok on government devices and new rules for online retailers that will crack down on the resale of stolen products.

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