Senate Democrats have decided to take a swing at reforming Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, and if it censors more speech, it will do far more harm than good.
Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced the latest proposal to reform Section 230, the SAFE TECH Act. The new act would cut liability protections for providers on paid-for speech like ads, which could encourage platforms to censor even more content to avoid liability.
In relevant part Section 230(c)(1) of the Communication Decency Act states, “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” The SAFE TECH Act would replace “any information” with “any speech,” in paragraph (3) of the law. It would also add “unless the provider or user has accepted payment to make the speech available or, in whole or in part, created or funded the creation of the speech.”
The SAFE TECH Act actually aims to decrease liability protections for providers who accept payment for speech for which they accept payment. By accepting payment, providers would be treated as the publishers of the content.
Protocol summarized the bill: “The law would strip companies of immunity for any speech they were paid to carry, such as ads or marketplace listings, and it would make clear that Section 230 does not shield companies from complying with court orders.”
The bill “attempts to limit Section 230 more broadly, so that it would be applied only to actual speech, not all bad behavior online: for example, illegal gun sales,” Protocol explained.
“Section 230 has provided a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card to the largest platform companies even as their sites are used by scam artists, harassers and violent extremists to cause damage and injury. This bill doesn’t interfere with free speech – it’s about allowing these platforms to finally be held accountable for harmful, often criminal behavior enabled by their platforms to which they have turned a blind eye for too long,” said Sen. Warner in a press release.
Even without this legislation, Big Tech has little problem censoring speech they disagree with. Twitter censored former President Donald Trump 625 times between May 31, 2018 and January 4, 2021. President Joe Biden was not censored at all during the same time span. Facebook and Instagram censored the #stopthesteal hashtag, and recently decided to remove even mentions of the phrase. Facebook has also suspended President Donald Trump at least for several weeks, until the Oversight Board makes a decision about whether he will be allowed back on the platform.
Conservatives are under attack. Contact your representatives and demand that Big Tech be held to account to mirror the First Amendment while providing transparency, clarity on “hate speech” and equal footing for conservatives. If you have been censored, contact us at the Media Research Center contact form, and help us hold Big Tech accountable.