Following through on his previous threat, President Trump has vetoed the $740 million National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a major bill that allocates military funds each year.
Through tweets in early December, Trump said he would sink the NDAA if it wasn’t altered to include language “terminating” Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, an essential and previously obscure internet law that the president has had in his crosshairs for the better part of the year.
“Your failure to terminate the very dangerous national security risk of Section 230 will make our intelligence virtually impossible to conduct without everyone knowing what we are doing at every step,” Trump said in a statement on the veto.
“The Act fails even to make any meaningful changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, despite bipartisan calls for repealing that provision.” Trump also stated that Section 230 “facilitates the spread of foreign disinformation online,” a threat that the president, who frequently spreads dangerous misinformation online, has historically expressed little concern for.
Section 230 became a hot topic in 2020 as lawmakers, states and the federal government made major moves to rein in the tech industry’s biggest, most powerful companies. The law protects internet companies from liability for the content they host and is widely credited with opening the doors for internet companies big and small to grow their online business over the years.
Trump’s position on Section 230 and the NDAA was never particularly tenable. While the NDAA is a massive piece of legislation, the kind that rolls up many disparate things, altering it to somehow repeal Section 230 was never on the table.
Trump’s position on Section 230 is extreme, even relative to many other members of his party. And while there is support for changing Section 230 on both sides of the aisle, Congress is far from a consensus on what needs to change. Still, throwing Section 230 out altogether is very unlikely to be the end result of whatever kind of reform Congress comes up with in the coming year.
The House plans to convene on Monday to override the president’s exercise of veto powers, which would require a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress.