Wednesday, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) introduced the Limiting Section 230 Immunity to Good Samaritans Act. The bill restricts the applicability of legal liability protections for online service providers, currently found in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The legislation would only apply to the largest platforms, defined as “edge providers” in the bill’s text.

The following may be attributed to Daisy Soderberg-Rivkin, Resident Fellow for Technology Policy at the R Street Institute and former legal removal associate at Google:

“This legislation is another in a long series of misguided attacks on Section 230. This time, it puts platforms on the receiving end of unending lawsuits for their moderation decisions, thereby disincentivizing any moderation at all.”

“The bill uses strategically vague language to attack the perceived suppression of conservative speech on the largest social media platforms. Going well beyond reasonable community guidelines, this bill introduces undefined and indeterminate concepts like ‘bad faith’ and ‘intentionally selective enforcement’ that will raise questions in the courts and trigger waves of litigation for years to come. Uncertainty about the bill will furthermore drive platforms to avoid questions and litigation by degrading moderation to allow all types of vile or objectionable content on their service, or by over-moderating content — even of a potentially conservative nature — such that no posts left on the service could trigger any liability on the part of the company.”

“Lawmakers concerned about protecting children online, preserving free speech and ensuring that social media remains open to all voices—not least of all conservatives—should instead rely on the free market, since the economy can support a virtually unlimited number of platforms, and neither they, nor anyone else, are required to use these services. The free market is vastly better than the heavy handed regulatory approach this bill proposes, which promises only to stifle speech.”

Featured Publications