DOJ-Recommended Changes to Section 230 Would Lead to More Moderation of Conservative Speech

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The Department of Justice today asked Congress to make changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a provision that protects any website from liability for third-party speech. The changes would be aimed at large technology companies DOJ is investigating for antitrust violations.

CEI Vice President for Strategy Iain Murray said:

“Conservatives think that reforming Section 230 will lead to less moderation of conservative speech online. They are flat out wrong on this. Removing liability protection will lead to far more moderation of conservative speech. Section 230 has allowed a million different voices to be heard online. Section 230 reform will reverse this and make the platforms legal gatekeepers of speech. Conservatives won’t like the results.”

CEI Vice President for Policy Wayne Crews said:

“While there are lots of problems with changing the rules of the game for Section 230 now, a key one is that changes of the type Attorney General Barr proposes will backfire. Barr is asking Congress to prevent bias, when it is in fact Congress’ job to protect the right to bias in the marketplace of ideas. Large tech companies were never required to be neutral by Sec. 230. If the concern, by this same Justice Department, is that big tech is too big, it should realize that the same Sec. 230 shield that allowed Google, Facebook, and Twitter to flourish is also what will allow successor firms to flourish. Messing with it now will ironically strengthen the biggest tech companies with respect to potential future upstarts if they are denied the same Section 230 protection. Furthermore, the bureaucracy eventually put in place to monitor this new law is unlikely to be controlled by conservatives.”

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