Press Release Section 230

Public Knowledge Launches Principles Guiding Section 230 Reform to Protect Free Expression Online

February 11, 2021 , , ,

Today, Public Knowledge released principles to help guide discussions of possible Section 230 reform to ensure that any changes promote the public interest. These principles are meant to provide guardrails for policymakers to protect consumers’ ability to freely express themselves online while also addressing the challenges posed by content moderation.

The principles outline how lawmakers can develop or evaluate proposals to reform Section 230 to maintain the law’s ability to protect free expression online by:

  • Providing Clear Due Process and Transparency
  • Protecting the Voices of Marginalized Communities
  • Streamlining Content Moderation Process
  • Acknowledging that One Size Does Not Fit All
  • Understanding Section 230 and Business Activity
  • Exempting Ads from Section 230
  • Focusing on Conduct, not Content
  • Promoting User Choices; and
  • Establishing That Any Section 230 Reforms Meant To Address Alleged Harms Actually Have the Ability To Do So.

The following can be attributed to Greg Guice, Government Affairs Director at Public Knowledge:

“Section 230 has been and remains a key foundational law that makes the internet that we have come to know possible. We believe it is as relevant today as it was 25 years ago when it was enacted because it makes possible the next great idea and creates spaces for us to all engage. This proves especially important right now, when so many of us can only engage online due to the pandemic.

“We know that policymakers are looking at the Big Tech landscape and see problems they want to fix, but we caution that not every technology or digital platform problem is a Section 230 problem. Too many people rely on the internet for us to rush any reform — from startups to students, from social movements like Black Lives Matter to the average consumer interacting with friends and family — the stakes are high for everyone if we get this wrong.

“It is our hope that these principles help advance conversations in a more fruitful direction while providing a tool to evaluate whether a particular bill would help promote a healthier online ecosystem, which is in all our interest.”

You may view the principles as well as our blog post, “Principles to Protect Free Expression on the Internet,” for more information.