How Do the Section 230 Reform Proposals Rate? A Section 230 Evaluation Scorecard

Section 230 of the Communications Act protects the ability of internet users to engage with one another on a range of topics and interests, from writing reviews of restaurants and products to putting forward opinions on politics, religion, and other areas of civic engagement. Section 230 does this by providing immunity from liability as a “speaker” or “publisher” for providers or users of an “interactive computer service” who host and moderate information provided by third-party users. The law also shields platforms and websites from lawsuits over their good-faith content moderation practices. 

Over the past few years, Section 230 has taken on an outsize role in the dialogue about the dominant role of digital platforms in public discourse. A number of legislative proposals have been put forward to reform it, some of which, in our view, have unacceptable unintended consequences. We are open to legislative proposals that ensure Section 230 creates the intended outcomes in the contemporary digital landscape and, in fact, have also put forward our own

In an effort to advance the dialogue, Public Knowledge recently introduced “Section 230 Principles to Protect Free Expression Online” — a set of guardrails for legislative reform that incorporates feedback from a wide range of stakeholders. This scorecard assesses federal proposals for Section 230 reform once they have been introduced in the 117th Congress, have gained sponsorship or support from legislators in the relevant committee(s), and have shown momentum toward gaining broad support.  The scorecard demonstrates how Public Knowledge consistently evaluates every Section 230 reform proposal: reform proposals that rate poorly are unlikely to promote the public interest.

To download the full description of each principle, see here.

Key:
green dot Indicates the proposal incorporates this principle and will likely have a positive impact on it.
Indicates the proposal does not address this principle, or the likely impact of the proposal on the principle is neutral or mixed.
red dot Indicates the proposal runs contrary to the principle, or will likely have a negative impact on the principle.