Wednesday, American Principles Project (APP) released a blueprint for a legislative amendment to Section 230 that would incentivize Big Tech platforms to promote free speech and free expression in the digital public square while protecting children from pornography and other harmful content.
The proposal, authored by APP’s director of policy Jon Schweppe and civil liberties attorney Craig Parshall, calls for Congress to amend Section 230 to make immunity from civil liability conditional on market-dominant Big Tech platforms adhering to free speech principles and on distributors of obscene material screening out users under age 18. Some members of Congress have already indicated an interest in revisiting Section 230, and last month President Trump signed an executive order calling for the scope of the law’s immunity to be clarified.
Remarking on the APP blueprint’s importance, Schweppe released the following statement:
“There’s been a lot of debate over how to interpret Section 230. We need to move beyond that. The law which passed almost 25 years ago — when the Internet was still in its infancy — does not function as it should today, especially as it relates to market-dominant Big Tech companies.
“Our blueprint would help Section 230 achieve what should be its dual mandate: incentivizing platforms to protect children from pornography and other harmful content, and creating a digital public square where the value of free speech is cherished and promoted.
“We look forward to working with Congress on this issue in the months ahead.”
The blueprint’s co-author Craig Parshall also released the following statement:
“Emboldened by a 1996 gift of lawsuit immunity granted by Congress, a small handful of Silicon Valley giants now totally dominate the marketplace of America’s online information. Sadly, they have used that power to relentlessly punish viewpoints they don’t like by banning them, down-ranking them or throttling their reach. This has tragic implications not just for personal liberty, but also for a fully informed electorate. Our solution is simple: return to the American people their access to the courts so their online voices can be restored.”