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The Telecommunications Act’s “Good Samaritan” Protection: Section 230

 

(1) Overview

Section 230 of the Telecommunications Act is regarded as “the most important law in tech” because it encourages investment and innovation on the Internet by providing legal certainty to services that they will not be held liable for the speech or actions of third parties.  Section 230 makes possible the Internet as we know it today: social media, blogs, image sharing, forums and comment sections — any service that enables users to submit content.  Literally every online platform that allows users to post information, share content, and comment relies on Section 230.

(2) Proposals to amend Section 230 (last updated 11/9/2020)

Senate:

  1. S. 4828: Stop Suppressing Speech Act, introduced 10/21/20 by Sen. Loeffler. (Further analysis by Szabo.)
  2. S. 4758: See Something, Say Something Online Act, introduced 9/29/20 by Sen. Manchin & Sen. Cornyn. (Further analysis by Masnick.)
  3. S. 4756: Don’t Push My Buttons Act, introduced 9/29/20 by Sen. Kennedy. (Companion: H.R. 8515.) (Further analysis by Masnick.)
  4. S. 4632: Online Content Policy Modernization Act, introduced 9/21/20 by Sen. Graham. (Further analysis by Keller, Goldman, Masnick.)
  5. S. 4534: Online Freedom and Viewpoint Diversity Act, introduced 9/8/20 by Sen. Wicker, Sen. Graham, & Sen. Blackburn. (Further analysis by Goldman, Masnick.)
  6. S. 4337: Behavioral Advertising Decisions Are Downgrading Services Act, introduced 7/8/20 by Sen. Hawley. (Further analysis by Masnick.)
  7. S. 4066: Platform Accountability and Consumer Transparency Act, introduced 6/24/20 by Sen. Schatz & Sen. Thune. (Further analysis by Goldman, Masnick, Keller.)
  8. S. 4062: Stopping Big Tech’s Censorship Act, introduced 6/24/20 by Sen. Loeffler. (Further analysis by Masnick.)
  9. S. 3983: Limiting Section 230 Immunity to Good Samaritans Act, introduced 6/17/20 by Sen. Hawley & 4 cosponsors. (Companion: H.R. 8596.) (Further analysis by Masnick.)
  10. S. 3398: Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies Act, introduced 3/5/20 by Sen. Graham, Sen. Blumenthal, & 8 cosponsors. (Companion: H.R. 8454.) (Further analysis by Lamont, Goldman, Pfefferkorn, Llansó.)
  11. S. 1914: Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act, introduced 6/19/19 by Sen. Hawley. (Further analysis by Goldman, Masnick.)

House:

  1. H.R. 8719: Curbing Abuse and Saving Expression In Technology Act, introduced 10/30/20 by Rep. Steube. (Further analysis by Szabo.)
  2. H.R. 8636: Protecting Americans from Dangerous Algorithms Act, introduced 10/20/20  by Rep. Malinowski & Rep. Eshoo. (Further analysis by Keller, Duffield.)
  3. H.R. 8596: Limiting Section 230 Immunity to Good Samaritans Act, introduced 10/16/20 by Rep. Budd & 6 cosponsors. (Companion: S. 3983.) (Further analysis by Masnick.)
  4. H.R. 8517: Protect Speech Act, introduced 10/2/20 by Rep. Jordan & 11 cosponsors. (Further analysis by Masnick.)
  5. H.R. 8515: Don’t Push My Buttons Act, introduced 10/2/20 by Rep. Gosar & Rep. Gabbard. (Companion: S. 4756.) (Further analysis by Masnick.)
  6. H.R. 8454: Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies Act, introduced 9/30/20 by Rep. Garcia & Rep. Wagner. (Companion: S. 3398.) (Further analysis by Lamont, Pfefferkorn, Masnick.)
  7. H.R. 7808: Stop the Censorship Act of 2020, introduced 7/29/20 by Rep. Gosar & 11 cosponsors. (Further analysis by Goldman.)
  8. H.R. 4232: Protecting Local Authority and Neighborhoods Act, introduced 9/9/19 by Rep. Case & Rep. King. (Further analysis by Goldman, Masnick.)
  9. H.R. 4027: Stop the Censorship Act, introduced 7/26/19 by Rep. Gosar & 3 cosponsors. (Further analysis by Goldman.)
  10. H.R. 492: Biased Algorithm Deterrence Act of 2019, introduced 1/11/19 by Rep. Gohmert. (Further analysis by Brown.)

Administration:

  1. Draft legislation, released 9/23/20 by the Department of Justice. (Further analysis by Masnick, Keller.)
  2. Draft regulations, submitted 7/27/20 by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. (Further analysis by Goldman, Masnick.)

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(3) Articles

  1. Jennifer Huddleston — The Federalist Society Blog: The FCC Should Not Engage in Section 230 Rulemaking 10/6/2020
  2. Daphne Keller — Slate: Trump-Backed Rules for Online Speech: No to Porn, Yes to Election Disinformation and Hate Speech 10/1/2020
  3. Keir Lamont — Disruptive Competition Project: New Look ‘EARN IT’ Act Poses Same Threats to Online Safety 10/1/2020
  4. Cathy Gellis — Techdirt: Busting Still More Myths About Section 230, For You And The FCC 9/23/2020
  5. Cathy Gellis — Techdirt: The First Hard Case: Zeran V. AOL And What It Can Teach Us About Today’s Hard Cases 9/11/2020
  6. Cathy Gellis — Disruptive Competition Project: What the Bostock Decision Teaches About Section 230 8/31/2020
  7. Chris Cox — Richmond Journal of Law and Technology: The Origins and Original Intent of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act 8/27/2020
  8. Eric Goldman — Technology and Marketing Law Blog: Comments on the Internet Association’s Empirical Study of Section 230 Cases 8/03/2020
  9. Matt Schruers — Disruptive Competition Project: What Is Section 230’s “Otherwise Objectionable” Provision? 7/29/2020
  10. Daphne Keller — Stanford Center for Internet and Society: CDA 230 Reform Grows Up: The PACT Act Has Problems, But It’s Talking About the Right Things 7/16/2020
  11. Riana Pfefferkorn — Stanford Center for Internet and Society: The EARN IT Act Threatens Our Online Freedoms. Net Amendments Don’t Fix It 7/6/2020
  12. Chris Cox — RealClearPolitics: Policing the Internet: A Bad Idea in 1996 — and Today 6/25/2020
  13. Ron Wyden — CNN: I wrote this law to protect free speech. Now Trump wants to revoke it 6/9/2020
  14. Charles C. W. Cooke — National Review: Why We Need Section 230 6/4/2020
  15. Charles Duan, Jeffrey Westling — Lawfare Blog: Will Trump’s Executive Order Harm Online Speech? It Already Did 6/1/2020
  16. Elizabeth Nolan Brown — Reason: Trump’s Executive Order on Twitter Is a Total Mess 5/28/2020
  17. Sonam Sheth, Ashley Gold — Business Insider: Legal and tech policy experts say Trump’s draft executive order cracking down on social-media companies is dead on arrival 5/28/2020
  18. Cathy Gellis — Techdirt: When The Problem Isn’t Twitter But President Trump 5/27/2020
  19. Eric Goldman — Technology and Marketing Law Blog: 46 Academics Encourage Congress To Consider Section 230’s Benefits 3/9/2020
  20. Eric Goldman — Technology and Marketing Law Blog: The PLAN Act Proposes to Amend Section 230 to “Protect”…Landlords and Hotel Chains? 10/16/2019
  21. Matt Schruers — Disruptive Competition Project: Myths and Facts about Section 230 10/16/2019
  22. Eric Goldman — Technology and Marketing Law Blog: Top Myths About Content Moderation 10/15/2019
  23. Rob Winterton — Medium: Section 230 Should be in Our Trade Agreements. Here’s Why. 10/15/2019
  24. Kate Ruane, Jennifer Stisa Granick — ACLU: Our Online Speech Rights Are Under Threat 10/15/2019
  25. Ethan Wham — Disruptive Competition Project: An Economic Case for Section 230 9/6/2019
  26. Jonathan Band — Disruptive Competition Project: Section 230 and the Future of the Open Internet 9/5/2019
  27. Matt Schruers — Disruptive Competition Project: Debate Over Online Content Embodies “Moderator’s Dilemma” 9/4/2019
  28. Ali Sternburg — Disruptive Competition Project: Why Do So Many Section 230 Stories Contain Corrections? 9/3/2019
  29. Carl Szabo — Morning Consult: Section 230 Is the Internet Law That Stops the Spread of Extremist and Hate Speech 8/27/2019
  30. Sarah Jeong — New York Times: Politicians Want to Change the Internet’s Most Important Law. They Should Read It First. 7/26/19
  31. Charles Duan — Washington Examiner: Trump wants an unbiased social media platform; he should have the government make one 7/16/2019
  32. Daisy Soderberg-Rivkin — Washington Times: Holding the technology industry hostage 7/1/2019
  33. Jonathan Band — Disruptive Competition Project: Trademark Decision Casts First Amendment Doubt on Hawley Bill 6/25/2019
  34. Jeffrey Westling — R Street Institute: Hawley’s Attack on Section 230 Hurts Conservatives 6/24/2019
  35. Bill Easley II — The Resurgent: When ‘Fairness’ Becomes Censorship 5/24/2019
  36. Cathy Gellis — Techdirt: Explainer: How Letting Platforms Decide What Content To Facilitate Is What Makes Section 230 Work 5/21/2019
  37. Ashkhen Kazaryan — Washington Examiner: Some conservatives need a First Amendment refresher 5/21/2019
  38. Matt Schruers — Disruptive Competition Project: Section 230 Criticism Explained 3/14/2019
  39. Cathy Gellis — Techdirt: How Regulating Platforms’ Content Moderation Means Regulating Speech – Even Yours. 9/18/2018
  40. Cathy Gellis — Techdirt: Section 230 Isn’t About Facebook, It’s About You 2/26/2018
  41. Matt Schruers — Disruptive Competition Project: House Hearing on Section 230: What’s the Problem with a Knowledge Standard? 10/4/2017
  42. Matt Schruers — Disruptive Competition Project: SESTA Hearing: Searching for Common Ground, Fixes to Unintended Consequences 9/19/2017
  43. Matt Schruers — Disruptive Competition Project: Content Providers vs. Content Hosts: Prosecuting Bad Actors Without the Backpage Bill 8/4/2017
  44. Matt Schruers — Disruptive Competition Project: Why State Regulation of Online Services Threatens the Internet Economy 8/3/2017

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(4) Letters and Testimony

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(5) Other Resources

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