APP Press - Legislation

APP Endorses House Bill Ending Unconditional Section 230 Immunity for Big Tech Companies

October 30, 2020

WASHINGTON — This morning, Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.) introduced the Curbing Abuse and Saving Expression in Technology (CASE-IT) Act. The bill would amend Section 230, a provision of the Communications Decency Act, in a number of important ways:

  • Market-dominant Big Tech companies would no longer receive unconditional immunity from civil liability. In order to receive immunity, they would need to moderate content in a way that adheres to a First Amendment standard.
  • A private right of action would serve as an enforcement mechanism to ensure that Big Tech companies that desire to maintain Section 230 protections are not censoring speech that would otherwise be protected under the First Amendment in the public square.
  • Companies and websites that create, develop, post, or materially contribute to illegal online content; permit or facilitate illicit sexual contact between adults and minors; and/or make indecent, obscene, or otherwise harmful content readily available to minors; would no longer enjoy any sort of immunity from civil liability.

Importantly, the bill also preserves current language allowing “Small Tech” innovators, market disruptors, and individual users to continue to enjoy their existing legal protections. Only market-dominant “Big Tech” companies would be required to adhere to a First Amendment standard to receive legal protections.

The legislation closely aligns with the principles proposed in American Principles Project’s blueprint for Big Tech reform released in June: “Protecting Free Speech and Defending Kids: A Proposal to Amend Section 230.”

Jon Schweppe, director of policy and government affairs at American Principles Project, released the following statement in support of the CASE-IT Act:

Rep. Steube’s CASE-IT Act is the most substantive Section 230 reform proposed to date. Not only would it hold Big Tech accountable, but it would protect kids from dangerous content online.

Ultimately, the CASE-IT Act provides these market-dominant platforms with a choice: respect free speech and free expression, or don’t. Protect kids from illegal online content, or don’t. If these companies want a special government subsidy, they need to follow the rules — and if they break those rules, there should be meaningful consequences.

American Principles Project wholeheartedly endorses the CASE-IT Act and urges its sponsorship and passage.

Jon Schweppe recently wrote about Big Tech election interference for The Daily Caller. You can read that op-ed here.

The full legislative text for the CASE-IT Act can be found here.

To schedule an interview with an APP policy expert, contact Paul Dupont at (o) 202-503-2010 or pdupont@americanprinciplesproject.org.


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