A number of internet companies that are not big social media players are organizing to defend the law that shields them from lawsuits.
The companies have formed a coalition called Internet Works to protect what they see as the benefits of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which has been targeted by the Trump Administration and members of Congress. Section 230 protects the internet firms from lawsuits over the content on their sites.
Members of the new coalition include Automattic, Cloudflare, Dropbox, eBay, Etsy, Glassdoor, GoDaddy, Medium, Nextdoor, Patreon, Pinterest, Reddit, Snap Inc., Tripadvisor, Vimeo and the Wikimedia Foundation.
The group hopes to enter the debate now dominated by social media giants Google, Facebook and Twitter to work with politicians in Washington seeking to repeal or reform the law.
Internet Works says its goal is to “ensure policymakers understand the potential unintended consequences of blunt changes to the law, including reducing competition, imperiling consumer choice, and limiting effective content moderation efforts.”
The coalition calls Section 230 the “foundational internet law that enables the United States to lead the world in innovation and robust job growth” in the technology sector.
“Internet Works members rely on CDA 230 to make their platforms safe for users and support free expression,” said Josh Ackil, spokesperson for Internet Works. “This coalition brings new voices and diverse perspectives to Washington’s current Section 230 debate, which too often focuses on the largest internet platforms.”
President Trump and numerous lawmakers have been critical of the content monitoring efforts of giant internet companies they say are politically biased.
Trump has threatened to veto the National Defense Authorization Act because it does not contain a provision repealing Section 230. He has also instructed federal agencies including the Federal Communications Commission and Justice Department to look into weakening or overturning Section 230.
The Internet Works website disputes the idea that Section 230 protects only internet giants:
“Section 230 protects internet sites and users by providing a legal basis for organizations of all shapes and sizes to moderate content. It prevents internet service providers (ISPs), internet sites of all sizes, and users from being held liable for objectionable content posted by other users. Section 230 doesn’t just apply to social media platforms.”
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