WASHINGTON—In response to today’s Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation’s hearing “Does Section 230’s Sweeping Immunity Enable Big Tech Bad Behavior?” examining Section 230’s relevance in the digital age and proposals to update the law, Ashley Johnson, ITIF Research Analyst, released the following statement:
Section 230 has been instrumental in shaping the modern Internet and enabling businesses to create countless online sites and services that consumers use daily. Many proposals to eliminate or alter Section 230 would undermine their business models and pose a major setback to free speech and innovation.
Nonetheless, it is clear that a growing number of policymakers and the public want to see changes to ensure companies are taking responsibility for addressing harmful content and conduct on their platforms. The rise of social media has improved the way people communicate and connect, while at the same time enabling more widespread online abuse in the form of harassment, hate speech, disinformation, and more. The biggest tech companies all share a goal of keeping their platforms safe for users while fostering open discourse, but the current online landscape would benefit from increased transparency and accountability.
Section 230 is one of the foundational laws of the Internet and updating it without undermining its benefits for online services and their users is a challenging but crucial task. Congress should move cautiously, yet purposefully forward in an effort to update this important law to ensure companies take responsibility for harmful content and conduct while maintaining Section 230’s protections for free speech and innovation.