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Wednesday 24 May 2023 |
Event type

The Battle Over Section 230: Exploring the Global Impact of US Online Speech Regulation

Digital panel discussion with Tom Wheeler, GC Senior Adviser and former Chairman of the FCC; Ali Sternburg, Vice President of Information Policy at CCIA; Menno Cox, Head of Sector for the Global Aspects of Digital Services, DG CNECT; and Ugonma Nwankwo, Senior Associate at GC, exploring the global implications of potential changes to Section 230 and what it means for internet companies.

Highlights from the discussion:

  • Section 230 has shaped the current business model for the internet industry, where personal information is used to deliver targeted content, algorithms monetize access to those targets, and revenue generation is centered around driving engagement. The challenge US lawmakers currently face is in keeping up with the pace of technological advancements and developing nuanced policies. Across the Atlantic, the European Commission has tried to take a nuanced approach to intermediary liability by allowing companies to set up processes for content moderation while benefitting from a liability exemption.
  • Congressional action is likely to focus on enacting legislation to protect children online, rather than comprehensive Section 230 reform. In lieu of Congressional action, states take the lead in reform efforts, as seen in Texas and Florida. However, state-driven action will likely face legal challenges, but through litigation vague aspects of Section 230 will be clarified.
  • Although the Supreme Court’s decisions last week in the Twitter v. Taamneh and Google v. Gonzalez cases maintain the content moderation status quo, it indicates that Section 230 reform is complex and requires careful reflection by legislators.
  • Changes to Section 230 could potentially prompt other countries to introduce policies that place restrictions on online content. Some aspects of Section 230 are imperative for protecting freedom of expression globally and enabling cross-border flows of information. However, changes to Section 230 could potentially prompt other countries to introduce policies that place restrictions on online content. Narrowing Section 230 could have unintended consequences such as empowering authoritarian regimes to target political opposition.

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The views expressed in this event can be attributed to the named author(s) only.