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Why the Most Controversial U.S. Internet Law Is Worth Saving


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Donald Trump and Joe Biden both want to throw out Section 230. Heres why America should fix it instead.

Credit: Morning Brew/Unsplash

U.S. president Donald Trump and his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, agree on at least one issue: the arcane federal law known as Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. On September 8, Trump tweeted that Republican lawmakers should "repeal Section 230, immediately." With similar urgency, Biden had told The New York Times last December that "Section 230 should be revoked, immediately."

Enacted in 1996 to bolster the nascent commercial internet, Section 230 protects platforms and websites from most lawsuits related to content posted by users. And it guarantees this immunity even if companies actively police the content they host.

By legally insulating online businesses, Section 230 has encouraged innovation and growth. Without the law, new internet companies would have more difficulty getting aloft, while established platforms would block many more posts in response to heightened litigation risks. Pointed political debate might get removed, and free expression would be constricted.

But many people have rightly questioned whether internet companies do enough to counter harmful content, and whether Section 230 effectively lets them off the hook. On Capitol Hill, at least a half-dozen bills have been introduced to curtail the law in various ways.

 

From MIT Technology Review
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