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Section 230 Exemption Threatens Internet Commerce as Much as Speech

An effort by state attorneys general to carve a major exemption out of a critical online free speech statute poses as serious a threat to Internet commerce as it does to free expression, NetChoice Executive Director Steve DelBianco said today.

NetChoice today joined a group of leading civil liberties and technology industry associations in opposing a push by state AGs for a broad new exemption to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Section 230 is a cornerstone of American Internet policy that protects companies from liability when users post illegal content on their sites. It is widely credited with supporting the emergence of the Web 2.0 revolution of user-generated content.

“If you want to know why the Internet and e-commerce industries thrived here and stagnated in Europe, you don’t have to look much further than Section 230,” DelBianco said. “Where other nations discouraged innovation, the United States created fertile ground for the business models that have transformed the world. To salt that earth now would be a dire mistake.”

“Section 230 is the backbone for our favorite e-Commerce sites.  Without Congress’s foresight in passing  Section 230, we might not have platforms like Etsy, CraigsList, Kickstarter, or AirBnB.”

NetChoice joined with academic leaders as well as technology and civil liberties organizations in sending a letter to the chairs of the Senate and House Commerce Committees opposing any revision to Section 230, and highlighting the importance of the statute to free expression and the Internet economy. A copy of the letter can be found here

“The most important thing lawmakers have ever done for the Internet was to create an environment that fosters growth and innovation,” DelBianco said. “The most important thing they can do now is to protect that environment and the powerful economic engine it has helped to support.”