Section 230: The Famous Online Speech Law

Today we are going to tell you about one of the famous and crucial laws for online speech. You might have heard about Section 230 quite often in the news and on the internet as well. Many people are debating over it and the changes requested by the U.S. President in it. But, what is it, and why people are so raged about it, even including big organizations such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc? Here, we are going to discuss all these things such as ‘What is Section 230?’

What exactly is Section 230?

In a nutshell, Section 230 is one of the vital sections of the Communications Decency Act, of 1996. It has laws that preserve online publishing platforms such as social media platforms, websites, etc. from the liability of the content published by any of its users. The law also allows them the right to take action against any inappropriate content, for example, content related to sex work, any copyright and legal violation, etc.

It gives the right of online speech to websites and social media publishers. No one can force them to act as a third-party publisher. Hence, most of people misapprehend this law by saying that companies use it to force their views on the users.

Section 230 and Its Connection With The First Amendment

If you are not familiar with laws and regulations, then let us tell you about the relationship between First Amendment and Section 230. The First Amendment in the Constitution restricts the government and officials to intervene in the freedom of speech. The same also prohibits any organization or company to edit content on their online platforms posted by their users. But, because of Section 230, companies are capable enough to do so, despite the First Amendment. Hence, it’s been a topic for debate for a long time, much before the Trump controversy.


Changes in Section 230

Till now, the government has made very few changes to Section 230. One such change is FOSTA (Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act). It was signed by the U.S. President in 2018, into the Allow State and Victims law. It is an exclusion of Section 230. FOSTA restricts Section 230 from being implemented to the content that endorses prostitution or online sex trafficking.


Changes Recommended by Different People in Section 230

Section 230 is a topic of debate for a long time, and hence various people have proposed modifications to it. The US lawmakers are suggesting two amendments for a long time. They want to restrict Section 230 from some specific content, such as FOSTA. In the other change, they want to make it mandatory for a particular category of content such as EARN IT (Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies Act).

While on the other hand, Democrats want some other changes to Section 230. They want strict laws to sue technology companies if they fail to take action against the content posted by users related to violence and hate.


What Tech Companies Want?

As per Facebook’s white paper, it seems that tech companies don’t want any big change in Section 230. They only want a little flexibility in the laws and a bit of tolerance from the governments. It is acceptable, as social media and various other online platforms work globally and, they have to follow different rules, regulations, and laws. Hence, they require some flexibility and tolerance.

Siddharth Jain
Siddharth is a technophile who loves to share his knowledge and love for technology. He likes to pen down all his learning and observations that might help the tech readers. Apart from being a technophile, he is a well-learned pianist.

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