PACT Act Has Good Intentions But Flawed Execution, Says ITIF

March 17, 2021

WASHINGTON—In response to today’s reintroduction of the Platform Accountability and Consumer Transparency (PACT) Act to amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), the leading think tank for science and technology policy, released the following statement from ITIF Policy Analyst Ashley Johnson:

Amid the many recent attempts to amend Section 230, the PACT Act stands out as a bipartisan approach with the right goals in mind—to increase transparency and accountability in content moderation—but it fails to thread the needle in a way that achieves those goals without overburdening online platforms.

On one hand, by giving the FTC power to take action against platforms for failing to remove policy-violating content, the PACT Act risks incentivizing platforms to create extremely permissible policies that would allow much of the harmful-but-legal content most Internet users do not want to see. On the other hand, its requirement that platforms remove illegal content within four days would incentivize platforms to remove content that is not actually illegal. This would have serious ramifications for free speech online.

Any amendments to Section 230 must carefully balance considerations of online harms, free speech, competition, and innovation. Though the PACT Act has not yet struck the right balance, it represents the kind of thoughtful, bipartisan approach Congress must take to reforming Section 230.

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PACT Act Has Good Intentions But Flawed Execution, Says ITIF