AFP to Sen. Hawley: Keep Government from Undermining the Internet

Jun 19, 2019 by AFP

Arlington, VA – Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) today announced legislation attacking Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a measure that affirms users are legally responsible for the content they post to online platforms. The legislation would fundamentally change how online companies have successfully operated for years, undermining a key protection for digital free speech and an essential ingredient that made the United States the global technology leader.

Americans for Prosperity Policy Analyst Billy Easley issued the following statement:

“Senator Hawley’s misguided legislation sets the table for stricter government control over free expression online. Eroding the crucial protections that exist under Section 230 creates a scenario where government has the ability to police your speech and determine what you can or cannot say online. Senator Hawley has argued that some tech platforms have become too powerful, but legislation like this would only cement the market dominance of today’s largest firms. This bill would punish success in the next generation of innovative startups and prevent them from achieving their full potential. Lawmakers should reject this legislation.”

The Stand Together community of groups, including Americans for Prosperity, have been vocal in their opposition to Sen. Hawley’s pessimistic views of technology and the role of social media. Recently, Neil Chilson, senior fellow and former FTC chief technologist, penned an op-ed in USA Today pushing back against Sen. Hawley’s outlook on social media platforms. AFP’s Billy Easley also recently penned a piece in The Resurgent highlighting the importance of protecting Section 230.

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is a core free speech protection that provides appropriately limited liability to online intermediaries. Congress stated in Section 230 that “the Internet and other interactive computer services offer a forum for a true diversity of political discourse, unique opportunities for cultural development, and myriad avenues for intellectual activity,” and adopted Section 230 to preserve that diversity. Internet businesses are required to comply with all federal laws, like any other business, but the Congress recognized that users should be held accountable for their actions online, not the tools they use.