Carl Szabo testifies on Social Media Moderation bill – Michigan HB 4801

Hotel industry mounts attack on Airbnb with House bill

The Hill

Steve DelBianco, president of e-commerce trade group NetChoice, which promotes free speech on the internet, called Section 230 “the greatest internet law that no one’s ever heard of.”

He said issues with short-term rentals should be addressed at the local level.

“Congress should not get involved with how the city of Austin, Texas, enforces its lodging and local zoning laws against property owners,” DelBianco said. “But Congress is being pulled into this competitive conflict because Section 230 is a federal law and bars local governments from imposing liability on a platform for commerce and communication that came from users.”

Carl Szabo, NetChoice’s general counsel, argued that Case’s bill would encourage platforms to be less responsive to take down content of bad actors, which is a component of Section 230 and could lead to platforms not doing any moderation at all, similar to how 8chan operates.

“This bill would create disincentives for short term rental platforms to engage in active, aggressive, monitoring of homeowners,” he said.

Like others in the short-term rental lobby, DelBianco said NetChoice plans to educate lawmakers “on the general hazards of punching holes in Section 230.”

NetChoice Criticizes Bill That Would Upend Short-Term Rental Market

Today, NetChoice criticized a new bill introduced by Rep. Case (D-HI) that would upend the American short-term rental market by removing Section 230 protections for platforms where owners list their properties.

“This bill creates a moral hazard by letting big hotel chains harass short term rental competitors, just so the big hotels can further increase their room rates,” said Steve DelBianco, President of NetChoice.  [see direct quotes from hotel chain executives below]

“Weakening Section 230 will damage Americans’ ability to communicate online.  The bill empowers Marriott to stop us from lawfully earning rental income on our own homes.”

“It’s laughable to hold the Washington Post liable for bad acts associated with rentals that appear in classified ads — but that is what this bill does.  This bill is so broad it allows cities to ban home rental ads on craigslist and on any website showing classified ads.”

Hotel chain executives have said on record that laws curtailing STRs would allow them to raise prices:

  • LaSalle Hotel Properties’ CEO Mark Barnello told his investors that a law curtailing short-term rental services would allow hotels to boost their prices by eliminating competition.  Passage of a law liming short-term rental services “should be a big boost in the arm for the business, certainly in terms of the pricing.”
  • On an earnings call last year, Jon Bortz, Chief Executive of Pebblebrook Hotel Trust, which owns Embassy Suites, Doubletree and other hotels, said that Airbnb has put a dent on the company’s “ability to price at what maybe the customer would describe as sort of gouging rates.”

Expedia to Congress – Hands Off Tech Liability Shield

Politico Morning Tech

“The beneficiaries of this bill are big hotel chains who want to raise room rates without worrying that guests would consider short-term rentals as an alternative,” said NetChoice President Steve DelBianco. (His trade group members include all the major short-term rental platforms, from Airbnb to Expedia to Travelocity).

NetChoice Criticizes Congressional Efforts to Upend Short-Term Rental Market

Today, NetChoice criticized efforts by Rep. Case (D-HI) to pass legislation that would upend the American short-term rental market by removing Section 230 protections.

“Nobody would say that a newspaper is liable for problems that occur with a rental that appeared in the paper’s classified ads, but that is just what Case’s bill would do to short-term rental platforms. This approach creates a moral hazard by shifting legal responsibility from the homeowner to the platform that lists it for rental.” said Steve DelBianco, President of NetChoice.

“Without Section 230 it will be harder for homeowners to earn extra income through short-term rental of their home, which today is helping them cover expenses and mortgage payments.”

“Weakening Section 230 will damage Americans’ ability to communicate online.  The beneficiaries of this bill are big hotel chains who want to raise room rates without worrying that guests would consider short-term rentals as an alternative.”

NetChoice Raises Concerns with Beto O’Rourke’s Proposal to Amend Section 230

Today, NetChoice raised concerns with former Congressman Beto O’Rourke announced plans to hold internet companies accountable for failing to stop hate speech and domestic terrorism threats online.

“By prescribing how platforms moderate speech, Beto’s proposal would actually make it harder to remove hateful and extremist content.” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel of NetChoice. 

“Since 8chan doesn’t moderate content at all, 8chan doesn’t rely on Section 230 to avoid liability for user content. 8chan already gets the same ‘conduit’ liability limits as newsstands and cable providers.”

“Section 230 is the legal tool that empowers platforms to take down hate speech, and has allowed Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to remove almost 12 million accounts for hate speech violations.”

Net ‘Censorship’ and Community Standards

Wall Street Journal

In a week in which our nation is wondering how to stop hateful speech online, Dennis Prager (“Don’t Let Google Get Away With Censorship,” op-ed, Aug. 7) complains about platforms applying their community standards when filtering videos and other content created by users.

Mr. Prager’s complaint, “Our videos are restricted only because they are conservative,” is an accusation that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

Read more…

Morning Consult - Section 230 Is the Internet Law That Stops the Spread of Extremist and Hate Speech

Morning Consult – Section 230 Is the Internet Law That Stops the Spread of Extremist and Hate Speech

We live in dangerous times when newspapers are demonizing the very law that helps stop the spread of hate and extremist speech. Despite what some headlines might say, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act succeeded in its goal to make the internet a better place.

But not letting facts and reality prevent a click-worthy headline, we’ve seen several attacks on this amazing law from leading newspapers.

Read more at Morning Consult