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Section 230 repeal will hurt internet users, not big tech companies

Section 230 repeal will hurt internet users, not big tech companies


Congress appears poised to water down one of the most important internet laws protecting free speech, but it remains to be seen how that law will affect the ability of millions of Americans to speak online every day. It protects and benefits and is ignored.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on a bill that would repeal 47 USC 230 (Section 230) within 18 months. Bill authors set deadlines to change or repeal Section 230, forcing big tech online platforms to come to the negotiating table to create a new intermediary liability regime claims.

As EFF has long stated, Section 230 is essential to protect individuals' ability to speak, organize, and create online.

Congress knew exactly what Section 230 would do: lay the foundation for all kinds of speech on the Internet, big and small. And that's exactly what happened.

Section 230 is not inconsistent with American values. It supports them in the digital world. People can find and create their own communities, and manage them as they see fit. Individuals and businesses are responsible for what they say, but not (with narrow exceptions) what others say.

The law is not a shield for Big Tech. Importantly, this law will benefit the millions of users who do not have the resources to build and host their own blogs, email services, and social media sites and instead rely on services to host their speech. is to bring about. Section 230 also benefits thousands of small online services that host speech. These people are being shut out as bill sponsors pursue dangerously misguided policies.

Even if big tech companies come to the table in future debates about what rules should govern speech on the internet, the EFF will ensure that the results do not limit internet users, as Section 230 currently does. They do not have the confidence to protect and benefit them. If Congress is serious about rewriting internet speech rules, it needs time to listen to the small services and everyday users who would be harmed if it abandons this bill and repeals Section 230. need to be spent.

Article 230. Protecting everyday Internet users

The bill, introduced by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), is based on a series of false assumptions and fundamentals about Section 230. It is based on a misunderstanding. TechDirt's Mike Masnick has already explained a lot. Regarding flawed assumptions and factual errors committed by co-sponsors.

We don’t want to repeat the many errors Masnick identified. Instead, we want to focus on what seems to be a glaring omission in the co-sponsors’ argument: how central Section 230 is to ensuring everyone has the ability to speak online.

Let's start with the text of Section 230. Importantly, this law protects both online services and users. It states that no provider or user will be treated as a publisher of content created by others. This is clearly consistent with the belief of most Americans that people should be responsible for their own speech, not the speech of others.

Section 230 protects individual bloggers, email forwarders, and social media users who have reshared or retweeted someone else's content online. Section 230 protects everyone who provides web hosting services, as well as individual moderators who may remove or moderate other online content.

As EFF explained, online speech is often subject to frivolous litigation. While big tech companies can afford to fight these lawsuits without Section 230, everyday internet users, community forums, and small businesses cannot. Engine estimates that without Section 230, many startups and small services would be subject to costly litigation that could put them out of business.

Removing Section 230 would be an uproar for the worst users of the internet

Cosponsors say too many websites and apps refuse to go after predators, drug dealers, sex traffickers, extortionists and cyberbullies, and remove Section 230. I imagine this will somehow force these services to better manage user-generated content on their sites.

There must be no difference from the truth. Repealing Section 230 is the last thing lawmakers should do if they have a legitimate motive to help stamp out illegal activity by online services and the egregious content that appears online. Current laws strongly encourage websites and apps, large and small, to do the worst. In response to misbehaving users, we remove offensive content and work with law enforcement to hold users accountable in cases of illegal activity.

If Congress removes Section 230, pre-digital legal rules regarding content distribution will apply. This law strongly prevents services from moderating or learning about user-generated content. This is because the more a service controls user content, the more likely it is that it can be held responsible for that content. Under that legal system, online services would have a huge incentive to simply not regulate and not look for nefarious activity. If we take the bill's sponsors at their word, this would be the exact opposite of their goal of protecting children and adults from harmful content online.




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