A cabal of state attorneys general want to change Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. If they succeed, website operators could be sued over user comments. The coalition says it simply wants the same rights as federal prosecutors, to go after threat-level-red criminals — like child predators. But free speech advocates warn the proposed change could usher in an era of Internet censorship.
What Is Section 230 of the CDA?
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is one of the most cited United States Internet laws. Passed in 1996, and commonly known as the safe harbor provision, section 230 absolves U.S. website operators from liability if third-parties use their platforms to post defamation statements.
What Do The Attorneys General Want To Change Section 230?
Section 230 of the CDA includes exemptions for federal crimes, allowing national prosecutors to bring charges against website operators in certain cases. Essentially, the AGs simply want those federal rights extended to the state level.
Drug sales, child pornography, and piracy — the attorneys general argue — are the issues at hand, and Section 230 needs tweaking to catch the bad guys.
Why Is There Opposition To The AG’s Proposal?
Americans are serious about our free speech rights. So it should come as no surprise that a group of high-profile legal scholars, associations, and companies signed a letter voicing their displeasure with the AG’s plans for section 230. In the missive, opponents opined “Section 230 has enabled investment in countless revolutionary services that are responsible for a fifth of U.S. economic growth.”
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