Free Speech

Online Speech Protections For Everyone Are In Danger

Section 230 3

Some members of Congress want to delete Section 230, the key law underpinning free speech online. Even though this law has protected millions of Americans’ right to speak out and organize for decades, the House is now debating a proposal to “sunset” the law after 18 months.

Section 230 reflects values that most Americans agree with: you’re responsible for your own speech online, but, with narrow exceptions, not the speech of other people. This law protects every internet user and website host, from large platforms down to the smallest blogs. If Congress eliminates Section 230, we’ll all be less free to create art and speak out online.

Section 230 says that online services and individual users can’t be sued over the speech of other users, whether that speech is in a comment section, social media post, or a forwarded email. Without Section 230, it's likely that small platforms and Big Tech will both be much more likely to remove our speech, out of fear it offends someone enough to file a lawsuit.

Section 230 also protects content moderators who take actions against their site’s worst or most abusive users. Sunsetting Section 230 will let powerful people or companies constantly second-guess those decisions with lawsuits—it will be a field day for the worst-behaved people online.

The sponsors of this bill, Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) Frank Pallone (D-NJ), claim that if it passes, it will get Big Tech to come to the table to negotiate a new set of rules around online speech. Here’s what supporters of this bill don’t get: everyday users don’t want Big Tech to be in Washington, working with politicians to rewrite internet speech law. That will be a disaster for us all.

We need your help to tell all U.S. Senators and Representatives to oppose this bill, and vote no on it if it comes to the floor.


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