House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is pushing to remove legal protections for tech companies as part of ongoing negotiations toward the passage of a revised trade agreement between the U.S., Mexico and Canada, according to a report on Wednesday.
Pelosi opposes language in the trade agreement that protects companies from being legally liable for content on their platforms, the Wall Street Journal reported. Tech companies had supported its inclusion in order to expand protections for their operations in Canada and Mexico.
“There are concerns in the House about enshrining the increasingly controversial…liability shield in our trade agreements, particularly at a time when Congress is considering whether changes need to be made in U.S. law,” a Pelosi spokesman told the Journal.
Tech companies are facing unprecedented scrutiny over their data practices and business models. Federal officials have launched multiple antitrust probes into top firms like Amazon, Facebook and Google.
The Internet Association, a trade group that represents most leading tech companies, said the liability protections are needed to protect small businesses.
“Failing to include intermediary liability protections – which have been a part of U.S. law for two decades – in USMCA would negatively impact the countless small businesses and entrepreneurs that use online platforms to export and advertise their businesses," IA President and CEO Michael Beckerman said in a statement. "The inclusion of these provisions – as part of the digital chapter of USMCA – represents a victory for the entire American economy."
The three nations have negotiated on USCMA as a replacement for the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which the Trump administration opposed. The deal has been subject to weeks of political wrangling between the Trump administration and House Democrats.