Congress Holds a Hearing on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act

On October 16, the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology and the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce held a hearing titled “Fostering a Healthier Internet to Protect Consumers.” The hearing focused on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and whether Congress should amend the Act in light of the numerous online harms that the platforms have failed to address. As it stands, Section 230 provides broad liability protections to online platforms for third-party content, immunizing the platforms from most civil liability. Congress is currently considering multiple issues that may require changes to the online liability provisions, including online hate speech, election interference, and the sale of illegal opioids and other illicit goods online. The witnesses at the hearing included both online industry representatives as well as critics calling for changes in the law. Multiple representatives questioned the online platforms’ ability to effectively self-regulate and noted that the Congress may be forced to take action if the platforms fail to act against online harms. Others, including Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) – who is on the House Democrats’ Trade Working Group – also questioned the inclusion of Section 230 immunities in international trade agreements, including the recently negotiated United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Read the prepared witness statements and watch the hearing here.


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