Senators announce new social media transparency billtext_fields
San Francisco: A bipartisan group of US Senators has announced a new bill titled 'The Platform Accountability and Transparency Act' (PATA) that would oblige social media firms to share platform data with independent researchers.
According to The Verge, the bill was announced by Democratic Aenators Chris Coons (Delaware), Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota), and also Rob Portman, a Republican from Ohio.
The latest bill comes in a moment when social media companies in general, and Facebook in particular, come under increased scrutiny in the wake of testimony from whistleblower Frances Haugen.
The bill defines qualified researchers as being affiliated with a university and pursuing projects that have been approved by the National Science Foundation (NSF), according to the press release.
Under the terms of the bill, platforms would be bound to comply with requests for data once the research was approved by the NSF.
Failing to provide data to a qualifying project would result in the platform losing the immunities provided by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
"The PATA act is a truly comprehensive platform transparency proposal," Laura Edelson, a PhD candidate at NYU Tandon School of Engineering and lead researcher at NYU's Cybersecurity for Democracy project, was quoted as saying by the website.
"If passed this legislation would provide a real pathway for researchers to better understand online harms and start coming up with solutions," Edelson added.
Earlier this year, Edelson and other researchers at the NYU Ad Observatory project were banned from Facebook after the platform alleged that their research violated terms of service.
The PATA bill is the latest in a long line of proposed legislation aimed at peering into the black box of social media algorithms.