Mark Zuckerberg agrees that Section 230 needs to be changed, but does not recommend changing it too much.
The Facebook CEO warned Tuesday that resetting the protections of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act – a landmark 1996 federal law that gives online platforms some legal protection from the content their users post – could have dire consequences.
In a prepared testimony to be given to Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Zuckerberg warned that the Section 230 removal could actually lead to more censorship on the internet as companies will actively try to avoid disclosing information they own could get you into legal trouble. Without the law, tech companies could be held liable for doing basic moderation such as removing hate speech and harassment, he said.
“Without Section 230, platforms could potentially be held responsible for everything people say,” Zuckerberg said said in prepared remarks to the Senate Trade Committee. Still, he added that “Congress should update the law to ensure that it is working as intended” and that “we are ready to work with Congress on how regulation in these areas might look.”
Zuckerberg is due to testify before the Senate Committee on Wednesday, along with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Google boss Sundar Pichai. Section 230 has been criticized by Democrats and Republicans alike, including President Trump, who has questioned corporate content moderation decisions. Republicans, in particular, have accused Big Tech of hiding an anti-conservative tendency, a claim that companies strongly deny.
FCC chairman Ajit Pai earlier this month sent shock waves through Silicon Valley when he announced plans to clarify the meaning of section 230 after an explosive backlash against Twitter and Facebook to block links to the Post’s story Emails from Hunter Biden.
In his own prepared remarks, Dorsey told lawmakers that weakening the law “could break down the way we communicate on the Internet, leaving behind only a small number of giant and well-funded tech companies.”
The Twitter boss will urge “thoughtfulness and restraint” when developing regulatory solutions and warn that regulations that go too far “can further consolidate companies with large market shares”.
Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google’s parent company Alphabet, will reportedly urge the committee to be “very thoughtful” about changes in Section 230 and “be aware of the consequences these changes could have for businesses and consumers”.
In addition to discussions on the reform of the law, questions relating to consumer data protection and media consolidation will also be raised in the hearing.
With postal wires