Section 230 is at the core of the internet as we know it. It is also at the core of technology policy debates taking place across all branches and levels of government in the United States. The Center for Growth and Opportunity has organized a symposium of the nation’s leading experts on Section 230 in order to contribute novel scholarship and perspective to this important national discussion.
This short statute protects website platforms from liability for third-party content. Its liability protections create a “legal framework that facilitates the hosting of user-created content, [which] content has come to typify the modern internet.” Americans consume user-created content all day, every day. It is this framework that provides the foundation for activities like reading Amazon and Yelp reviews, asking friends on Facebook for child care recommendations, searching YouTube for instructional videos about how to change a tire, rating college professors, and searching for information about a specific doctor.
However, with all the benefits of positive user-created content also come the costs of objectionable speech and the necessary actions taken to limit bad actors online. Section 230 empowers internet platforms to regulate their own users, but no system is perfect. Parties from all perspectives have been vocal about significant drawbacks.
Over the past few years, policymakers at the state and federal level, legislative and executive, have proposed various reforms in efforts to change this law, many of them sacrificing the openness of user-created content in the name of protection against dangerous speech.
Now, for the first time ever, the Supreme Court of the United States will decide how Section 230 should apply to companies on the internet.
The authors in this Section 230 Symposium include Former Representative Christopher Cox, co-author of the statute, as well as leading legal and academic experts in tech policy. These experts have decades of experience studying how public policy impacts existing and emerging technologies.
This symposium of six working papers provides cutting edge analysis of the past, current, and future implications for Section 230 to policymakers in all three branches of state and federal government, as well as those of the public who are participating in these discussions.
Section 230 Symposium Papers