The Internet’s First Amendment is Under Attack from BOTH Sides
Article from Reason by Elizabeth Nolan Brown.
Widely misunderstood and widely misinterpreted, often by those with political ambitions and agendas, Section 230 is, at its core, about making the internet safe for both innovation and individual free speech. It is the internet’s First Amendment—possibly better. And it is increasingly threatened by the illiberal right and the regressive left, both of which are now arguing that Section 230 gives tech industry giants unfair legal protection while enabling political bias and offensive speech.
Ending or amending Section 230 wouldn’t make life difficult just for Google, Facebook, Twitter, and the rest of today’s biggest online platforms. Eroding the law would seriously jeopardize free speech for everyone, particularly marginalized groups whose ideas don’t sit easily with the mainstream. It would almost certainly kill upstarts trying to compete with entrenched tech giants. And it would set dangerous precedents, with ripple effects that extend to economic and cultural areas in the U.S. and around the world.
The point of Section 230 was to protect the openness of online culture while also protecting kids from online smut, and protecting the web at large from being overrun by defamatory, hateful, violent, or otherwise unwanted content. Section 230 would do this by setting up a legal framework to encourage “the development of technologies which maximize user control over what information is received” and removing “disincentives for the development and utilization of blocking and filtering technologies that empower parents.” Rather than tailoring the entire internet to be suitable for children or majority sensibilities, Congress would empower companies, families, and individuals to curate their own online experiences.
Section 230 stipulates, in essence, that digital services or platforms and their users are not one and the same and thus shouldn’t automatically be held legally liable for each other’s speech and conduct.
Read the entire article at Reason.
Image Credit: By Edi Wibowo [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons