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The Week in Internet News: U.S. DOJ Wants to Hold Website Liable for User Comments

Legal landmines: The U.S. Department of Justice has proposed ending a 24-year-old provision that protections websites and social media outlets from lawsuits for comments and other content posted by users, the Washington Post reports. While some Republicans have complained about social media sites allegedly burying conservative voices, the proposal would actually force sites into heavy moderation as a way to avoid lawsuits. The DOJ proposal would also end legal protections for tech companies that fail to allow law enforcement access to encrypted communications.

Taxing the Internet: The European Union is considering a digital goods tax, but it may have to do so without an agreement from the U.S. government, Al Jazeera reports. The U.S. government has announced it is withdrawing from negotiations with European countries over new international tax rules on digital goods. Nearly 140 countries have been involved in the negotiations.

Internet in space: SpaceX is opening up its Starlink low-earth orbit Internet service to beta testers, ZDNet says. SpaceX now has 540 satellites deployed, allowing for “minor” coverage. The company plans to eventually launch as many as 30,000 Starlink satellites.

The café society: Operators of Internet cafés and gaming centers in Thailand are pushing for the government there to allow them to reopen after a three-month shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Xinhuanet says. The restrictions now in place are depriving customers of the ability to study, sell products online, and contact friends and relatives, the operators say.

Don’t talk about it: The Russian government has cracked down on what it calls fake news about COVID-19 in recent months, the Irish Times reports.  Russia “has sought to keep information about the pandemic under equally tight control.” The government coronavirus task force has a special “fake news” division, and the Investigative Committee, a law enforcement agency, tracks coronavirus information on messaging apps.

Your spying browser: Extensions for Google’s Chrome browser have been delivering spyware to users’ computers, Reuters reports. The spying extensions were downloaded 32 million times before Google removed more than 70 of the malicious add-ons from the Chrome Web Store after being alerted by researchers.

Read “Making Intermediaries Liable for Encrypted Content Breaks Trust and Security