Press Statements

NetChoice Challenges White House Proposal to Control Online Speech

Today, CNN obtained a copy of a summary of a proposed Executive Order by The White House to grant the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission investigation and oversight powers regarding moderation of content by online platforms.

“In a week where many in Washington pressured social media sites to more closely moderate their platforms, we are seeing efforts from the White House to make content moderation harder.” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel for NetChoice.

“If President Trump is concerned about mistreatment of conservatives by social media platforms the White House should continue a productive dialogue with the tech industry — not empower government agencies to regulate online speech.”

“Diminishing platforms’ ability to remove offensive content empowers the spread of extremist political speech.”

New Poll Reveals 70 Percent of Americans Value Their Ability to Post or View User-Created Online


Facebook comments, Instagram posts, and reviews on Yelp are a valuable part of American business and daily lives

WASHINGTON – NetChoice today announced new polling on user-created content and responsibility for illegal activity online. The poll’s findings show that Americans overwhelmingly (70 percent) value their independent ability to post or view user-created content online.

The poll, conducted by RealClear Opinion Research, revealed that 62 percent of Americans say users who act illegally or post illegal content online are the ones who should be held responsible. Just 26 percent think the online platform should be held liable.

“Tech platforms powered by Section 230 continuously protect consumers from harmful and illegal activity while empowering free speech online. The results from this polling showcase that maintaining Section 230 is a priority for the American people,” says Steve DelBianco, President of NetChoice.

“Section 230 enables online platforms to connect workers with potential employees, consumers to read reviews and comments to help them make decisions, and families to stay connected. It is understandable that the American public would continue to support Section 230 and not want to hold platforms liable for the content other people are posting.”

Additional poll findings include:

  • Americans overwhelmingly (70%) say their ability to post of view user-created content online is valuable to their personal and professional lives.
  • 62% of Americans say users who act illegally or post illegal content online are the ones who should be held liable.
  • Of those polled, 73% say users, not platforms, should be held responsible for posts made in the comments section of a webpage.
  • Only 1 in 5 polled say they trust the government keep online business practices ethical and fair, whereas a majority most trust consumers or businesses.

Each tech and social platform that hosts user-generated content has community standards in which customers and organizations need to abide to be part of the conversation.

DelBianco added, “These poll results confirm that despite calls for changes to Section 230 by some, Americans value their ability to post content online. It’s vital to keep Section 230 in place, because it not only empowers small businesses nationwide, it also connects Americans with their friends, family, and elected officials.”  

While online platforms work to improve the user experience and ensure safe environments for all users through content moderation and removal of offensive content, Americans continue to value their ability to post and view user-created content online. 

The poll data can be found here. For more information, please email info@netchoice.org.

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About NetChoice

NetChoice is a trade association that works to protect free expression and free enterprise online.

NetChoice Condemns Introduction of Social Media Addiction Reduction Technology (SMART) Act

Today, NetChoice raised concerns with new legislation introduced by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), the Social Media Addiction Reduction Technology (SMART) Act.

The bill would reduce the usefulness of social media platforms by banning features like autoplay and automatic scrolling. Ironically, a visitor to Sen. Hawley’s own website will see an autoplay video.

“This bill would reduce the power of consumers to make decisions for themselves and give that power to the government,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel at NetChoice. “It’s our role to decide what online services and tools we use, not the government’s.”

The bill would also grant the FTC and HHS power to ban social media practices.

“The goal of this bill is to make being online a less enjoyable experience — which polling reveals as something the American people oppose.”

“This bill gives the federal government the power to shut down sites and services it doesn’t like, with little-to-no recourse,” continued Szabo. “Consumers have an abundance of tools that let them control their online experiences. Sen. Hawley’s legislation would expand governmental control over the internet.”

NetChoice Commends President Trump and the White House for Addressing French Digital Service Tax

Today, NetChoice commended President Trump and the White House for addressing discriminatory tax proposals coming from Europe.

“France’s Digital Service Tax (DST) is a clear and targeted attempt by Macron to unfairly line French pockets with revenue generated by American innovations,” said Carl Szabo, VP and General Counsel at NetChoice. “President Trump has correctly recognized that France’s Digital Service Tax treats American businesses operating in Europe unfairly.”

“France’s DST ignores advertising by newspapers and television by only taxing large online businesses, the vast majority of which are housed in the United States. DST’s discrimination is obviously intentional and patently unfair,” continued Szabo. “We commend President Trump for his initiative in protecting America’s businesses and combat this unfair tax on American innovation by a foreign power.”

NetChoice Opposes Introduction of Stop Censorship Act

Today, Reps. Gosar (R-AZ), Meadows (R-NC), and King (R-IA) introduced the Stop Censorship Act. The bill would make platforms liable for all content if they remove “legal but otherwise objectionable” content, effectively banning platforms from removing extreme political content and misinformation.

“This bill effectively forces platforms to host harmful content like misinformation, radicalization, deep fakes, and racism.” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel of NetChoice.

“Even though the bill claims to allow moderation of adult content, spam, and bots, without text it’s likely these exemptions won’t allow for necessary content moderation that keeps consumers safe online.” 

“The bill would prevent platforms from removing extreme content including from groups that support white supremacism and antisemitism.”

“This bill won’t help conservatives but would undermine conservative values by giving government greater control over online speech.”

NetChoice Raises Concerns with a Wide-Reaching Department of Justice Investigation into the Tech Industry

Today, NetChoice Raised Concerns with a Wide-Reaching Department of Justice Investigation into the Tech Industry

“The DOJ must resist the siren song of populism and only investigate actual evidence of consumer harm,” said Carl Szabo, NetChoice Vice President and General Counsel.

“While anti-tech advocates argue that anything big is bad, for America’s small businesses, often the bigger the platform the better.”

“If the DOJ sticks to the facts, it will see that Americans have more choices and more information than ever. Thanks to innovative online services, consumers have access to an abundance of products, businesses, and information.”

“These businesses cannot be considered monopolies when they compete against one another. Competition in tech is fierce.”

NetChoice Supports Facebook and FTC Settlement

Today, NetChoice voiced support for the FTC and Facebook’s settlement, for which Facebook will be fined $5 billion. This breaks the record for privacy-related fines and is about 100 times larger than last year’s EU’s fine for Google.

“The FTC’s Facebook fine is the largest ever, by a huge margin,” said Carl Szabo, General Counsel at NetChoice. “Yet we are already hearing anti-tech critics claim that the fine is not enough. “

“The FTC’s Facebook fine is unprecedented and will undoubtedly motivate better privacy practices by all businesses. The FTC commissioners should enjoy their weekend, #ThatsGonnaLeaveAMark”

14 Conservative and Free Market Groups Ask Congress to Protect Section 230

Today, 14 Free Market and Conservative groups sent a letter to House and Senate leadership asking them to defend Section 230 of the Communications and Decency Act. 

The letter illustrates the importance of Section 230 to the American economy and free speech online. Sent the day before President Trump’s Social Media Summit, the letter is key reading for conservatives discussing concerns about social media platforms.

Below are quotes from NetChoice and the Taxpayers Protection Alliance about the importance of the letter and Section 230:

David Williams, President of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance: “Countless conservative voices benefit from the liability protections guaranteed by Section 230, and oppose any attempts to end this vital provision. The internet flourishes when social media platforms allow for discourse and debate without fear of a tidal wave of liability. Ending Section 230 would shutter this marketplace of ideas at tremendous cost.”


Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel at NetChoice: “Online platforms power the American economy and conservative speech online, and it’s clear that many conservative and free market groups support maintaining Section 230. It’s bad policy and bad politics for Republicans to attack Section 230.”

Link to letter: https://www.protectingtaxpayers.org/wp-content/uploads/S230-Letter-to-Congress-with-Logos-1.pdf 

New Poll Reveals 70 Percent of Americans Value Their Ability to Post or View User-Created Online

Facebook comments, Instagram posts, and reviews on Yelp
are a valuable part of American business and daily lives

WASHINGTON – NetChoice today released new polling on user-created content and responsibility for illegal activity online. The poll’s findings show that Americans overwhelmingly (70 percent) value their independent ability to post or view user-created content online.

The poll, conducted by RealClear Opinion Research, revealed that 62 percent of Americans say users who act illegally or post illegal content online are the ones who should be held responsible. Just 26 percent think the online platform should be held liable.

“Tech platforms powered by Section 230 continuously protect consumers from harmful and illegal activity while empowering free speech online. The results from this polling showcase that maintaining Section 230 is a priority for the American people,” says Steve DelBianco, President of NetChoice.

“Section 230 enables online platforms to connect workers with potential employees, consumers to read reviews and comments to help them make decisions, and families to stay connected. It is understandable that the American public would continue to support Section 230 and not want to hold platforms liable for the content other people are posting.”

Additional poll findings include:

  • Americans overwhelmingly (70%) say their ability to post of view user-created content online is valuable to their personal and professional lives.
  • 62% of Americans say users who act illegally or post illegal content online are the ones who should be held liable.
  • Of those polled, 73% say users, not platforms, should be held responsible for posts made in the comments section of a webpage.
  • Only 1 in 5 polled say they trust the government keep online business practices ethical and fair, whereas a majority most trust consumers or businesses.

Each tech and social platform that hosts user-generated content has community standards in which customers and organizations need to abide to be part of the conversation.

DelBianco added, “These poll results confirm that despite calls for changes to Section 230 by some, Americans value their ability to post content online. It’s vital to keep Section 230 in place, because it not only empowers small businesses nationwide, it also connects Americans with their friends, family, and elected officials.” 

While online platforms work to improve the user experience and ensure safe environments for all users through content moderation and removal of offensive content, Americans continue to value their ability to post and view user-created content online. 

The poll data can be found here. For more information, please email info@netchoice.org.

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About NetChoice

NetChoice is a trade association that works to protect free expression and free enterprise online.

The Republican lawmaker rattling Silicon Valley

Politico

“He’s one of the smartest people in the legislature and he’s somebody who, when he puts his mind to something, is incredibly driven,” said Carl Szabo, general counsel for right-leaning industry group NetChoice. “This is why I’m as disheartened as I am to see him put a lot of his effort into attacks on America’s businesses and harms to America’s freedoms that we enjoy today.”

NetChoice, like the Internet Association, counts digital heavyweights like Google, Facebook and Twitter as members.

NetChoice Releases New Report on Privacy Regulations Governing Tech

Today, as part of its filings with the Federal Trade Commission, NetChoice released a white paper outlining identifying the myriad of privacy laws and actions taken against technology businesses. 

This report lists the more than 100 US privacy laws governing tech and more than 75 general privacy cases and 65 data security cases brought against tech by the FTC since 2002.

“Some in Congress think the tech industry is the “wild west.” This is completely untrue. The industry is regulated by over 100 different laws and 75 enforcers,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel for NetChoice. 

“Tech regulation is substantial with over eleven federal agencies providing oversight and more than $100 million reaped in privacy fines.”

Full report at: www.NetChoice.org/RegulationWhitePaper

Report: Section 230 Enables American Innovation to Flourish, Igniting Investment Opportunities for Startups

US internet companies are ten times as likely to raise over $100 million in venture capital compared to EU internet platform businesses

WASHINGTON, DC – NetChoice, a trade association committed to make the internet safe for free enterprise and free expression, today hosted the release of a new report – Don’t Shoot the Message Board – revealing the positive economic impact of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act on the US economy and the ability of American companies to innovate and receive strong investments.

Authored by the Copia Institute, the report reveals that US companies are five times as likely to raise over $10 million in venture capital, and ten times as likely to raise over $100 million in venture capital compared to those in the EU. These benefits to the US economy and businesses are attributed to the assurances and broad immunity provided by Section 230.

The report, using cross-regional comparisons, as well as changes over time within certain

countries, explores how different levels of platform protections from liability impact investment and innovation. According to the report:

  • Section 230 continues to enable strong economic growth. There is a direct correlation between countries with intermediary liability protections like Section 230 and economic growth. Over the next decade, Section 230 will contribute a further 4.25 million jobs and $440 billion in growth to the US economy.
  • Section 230 enables a world-leading, innovative and competitive tech industry. After Section 230 was put into law, investment in internet platform businesses tripled.
  • Limits on liability offered by Section 230 resulted in two to three times greater total investment in internet platform businesses in the US as compared to the more limited protections offered in the EU and under the E-Commerce Directive
  • Section 230 is credited with creating “a trillion dollars in value” and is a driver for American job creation.
  • US platform companies are five times as likely to be able to raise significant funds (over $10 million in venture capital) and ten times as likely to raise massive funds (over $100 million in venture capital) due to these stronger protections from Section 230 than those in the European Union.

Mike Masnick, CEO of the Copia Institute, added: “This report reaffirms that Section 230 is vital for strong investments and innovation around the country.”

“With the strong data presented in this report, there is no denying the fact that American innovation and start-up success is directly linked to the confidence provided to investors under Section 230,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel of NetChoice.

“Not only does Section 230 empower communities and voices across the United States, it also ignites American innovation and American economic prosperity with rippling benefits to all that utilize internet-based platforms.”

For more information and a downloadable copy of the report, please visit this webpage.

NetChoice Condemns Sen. Hawley’s “Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act.”

Today, NetChoice condemned Sen. Hawley’s “Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act” as legislation that would embolden extreme political movements, such as the KKK.

The bill empowers the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to judge whether a platform is moderating with “political neutrality.” Under the bill, before a platform can enjoy liability protections, it must first receive a “neutrality seal of approval” from the FTC.  This means that the FTC would have the power to say which social media platforms are allowed to host political speech by users.

“This bill prevents social media websites from removing dangerous and hateful content, since that could make them liable for lawsuits over any user’s posting” said Carl Szabo, General Counsel at NetChoice.  “Sen. Hawley’s bill creates an internet where content from the KKK would display alongside our family photos and cat videos.”  

“This law would turn today’s popular social media sites into hubs of extremism like 8-Chan.”

“Republicans should be very worried about Sen. Hawley giving control of the internet to the FTC, since it empowers a future Democratic administration to suppress conservative speech online.”

NetChoice Voices Concerns Over House Judiciary Committee Antitrust Hearing

Tomorrow, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing entitled “Online Platforms and Market Power, Part 1: The Free and Diverse Press.” NetChoice is concerned that the hearing will be used to push for government to protect big media companies rather than to act in the interests of consumers.

“It’s clear this is just an attack on social media by big media companies upset that they no longer control our news and views,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel at NetChoice.

“Big media is showing its true colors by supporting antitrust exemptions for themselves, while demanding tougher antitrust enforcement on tech businesses.”

“It’s hypocritical for legislators to simultaneously complain about the size of tech businesses while seeking to pass a law to give more power to Rupert Murdoch and Carlos Slim.”

“Big media is struggling to dominate again as they did before the internet,” continued Szabo. “Rather than looking for government to tear down tech businesses, big media should follow tech’s lead and innovate so they are more competitive.”

NetChoices Voices Concerns with “Protecting Children from Online Predators Act.”

Today, Sen. Hawley (R-MO) announced plans to introduce the “Protecting Children from Online Predators Act.” The bill would ban “video hosting websites” from showing videos depicting minors as part of Youtube recommendations.

“While Hawley’s goal is to help minors, his bill would suppress all videos featuring minors — with the unintended effect that high schools and youth groups like the YMCA cannot effectively promote their activities.”

“The largest social media platforms are devoting substantial resources to remove child exploitation content from their websites. Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook together removed over 16 million users who had violated child safety standards in the second half of 2018.”

NetChoice Applauds New YouTube Community Guidelines

Today, Google announced in a blog post that it is updating YouTube’s community guidelines. The move will further reduce the presence of supremacist and hateful content on YouTube’s platform.

“It’s clear Google has listened to concerns from Congress and the public about harmful content and the role of content moderation,” said Carl Szabo, VP and General Counsel at NetChoice.

“Google rightly met with voices from across the political spectrum to craft these fair and effective rules.”

“We should all celebrate Google’s move to increase transparency and make YouTube better for its users and advertisers,” continued Szabo. “Google is ensuring that YouTube prevents the spread of cruelty online – regardless of political affiliation.”

Antitrust Investigations into Apple, Amazon, and Google are Misguided

“The Justice Department’s investigation of Google will come to the same conclusion as the FTC’s did in 2013 — that there is no antitrust case,” said Carl Szabo, NetChoice Vice President and General Counsel.

“It’s illogical that the DOJ is investigating competitors in the same market for monopoly behavior. Amazon, Apple, and Google all compete with each other in a vibrant and competitive marketplace.”

“Consumers don’t have antitrust concerns with America’s tech industry. NetChoice polling from August 2018 shows that less than 5% of consumers say antitrust enforcement should be most focused on tech,” continued Szabo.

“Pointless antitrust attacks on American businesses risks stalling-out America’s tech leadership as competition from China is fiercer than ever before.”

NetChoice Objects to Hyperbolic Statements Calling Facebook a “Willing Enabler” of Russian Interference

Today Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Facebook was a “willing enabler of the Russian interference in our elections.”

“Facebook is taking extraordinary steps to protect our democracy. This type of hyperbole makes it hard to identify the real bad actors,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President of NetChoice. “Speaker Pelosi’s accusation that Facebook is a “willing enabler” of Russian interference in our elections is false and over-the-top. It’s obvious that Facebook is hugely invested in ensuring that its platform won’t be misused to aid election interference,” continued Szabo.

“Hyperbolic attacks on platforms won’t help solve the tech issues of today,” said Szabo.

The Do Not Track Act Would Harm the Digital Marketplace

Today, Sen. Hawley announced the introduction of the “Do Not Track Act.” The bill claims to give consumers the right to use online services without allowing those services to use interest-based advertising.

“This bill harms consumers and competition,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel at NetChoice. “By preventing the use of interest-based ads, this bill will result in more ads, more paywalls, and less content.”

“Sen. Hawley’s bill undermines small online businesses trying to compete with large incumbents by preventing them from making the most from their smaller user base. This bill most helps large businesses with trusted names while kneecapping future competitors.”

“Sen. Hawley’s bill doesn’t give users more rights over their data, it gives users the right to use online platforms without paying for them.”

NetChoice and Congressman Cox File Amicus Brief Protecting Homeowners Using Airbnb and HomeAway in Santa Monica

Today, NetChoice filed, alongside Chris Cox, Former Member of Congress and Co-Author Of CDA Section 230, an amicus brief in HomeAway and Airbnb v Santa Monica.  As the brief outlines, “the Panel opinion in this case upends the well-established meaning of the words of Section 230, and will have dramatic consequences by overriding the intent of Congress.”

“The prior Panel ruling by the ninth circuit violates the very principles Section 230 put into law and if left in place risks closing-off avenues for free enterprise and free speech for all Americans.  We expect and support an overturning of the prior ruling,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel at NetChoice.

“Section 230 empowers individuals and businesses all over the country through the use of online platforms like HomeAway and Airbnb,” continued Szabo. “The prior decision runs contrary to multiple 9th Circuit decisions that have upheld Section 230 and enabled unprecedented innovation.”
The full amicus brief can be read here.