Last month, Attorney General William Barr said, “valid questions have been raised on whether Section 230’s broad immunity is still necessary, at least in its current form.” But the attorney general and other critics should think twice before advocating for altering the crucial law.
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act was passed as a part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. It shields online platforms from liability for the content posted by its users. In doing so, it allows platforms to alter or remove content without being categorized as a publisher and, therefore, liable for content the way traditional publishers are. The law was written to empower and encourage online hosts to create and enforce standards and rules for their platforms.
But today, misguided criticisms of Section 230 come from both sides of the aisle.
Critics on the Left feel that online platforms aren’t doing enough moderation of content. This week, Democratic Rep. David Cicilline announced plans to introduce a bill that would remove Section 230 protections from platforms that refuse to police political speech. Last spring, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi told reporters that Section 230 “is a gift to (tech companies) and I don’t think that they are treating it with the respect that they should, and so I think that that could be a question mark and in jeopardy … I do think that for the privilege of 230, there has to be a bigger sense of responsibility on it. And it is not out of the question that that could be removed.”
From the Right, the criticism is the opposite. Conservative tech skeptics insist that the same online platforms are doing too much moderation, and are disproportionately silencing conservative voices in the process.
Read the full article at The Washington Examiner.