Libraries, Wikipedia, Others Blast Proposed Section 230 Repeal

A bill that would repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act at the end of next year is drawing opposition from groups including the American Library Association, Wikimedia Foundation and the tech trade organization Incompas.

“Section 230 protections are essential for nurturing a thriving ecosystem of small and medium-sized tech enterprises that make up the Internet’s infrastructure, educational institutions, libraries ... and many other vital stakeholders,” the organizations said Tuesday in a letter to Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Washington) and Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-New Jersey).

Section 230, passed in 1996, broadly protects social media platforms, web publishers and other interactive service companies from liability when consumers or other third parties post actionable material, such as defamatory reviews.



The letter comes on the eve of a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing about a proposal floated by Rodgers and Pallone to sunset Section 230. The lawmakers said last week they hope to work with tech companies and others to “enact a new legal framework” for online platforms.

The library groups and other signatories argue that revising Section 230 would impose significant costs on small companies and service providers.

“By narrowly framing the debate around the interests of 'Big Tech,' there is a risk of misunderstanding the far-reaching implications of altering or dismantling Section 230,” the groups write.

“The heaviest costs and burdens of such action would fall on the millions of stakeholders we represent who, unlike large companies, do not have the resources to navigate a flood of content-based lawsuits,” the organizations add.

They are urging lawmakers to “engage in a more inclusive dialogue that encompasses the perspectives and concerns of all stakeholders within the internet ecosystem.”

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