There might be some significant changes coming to the internet that might affect every online business and website on the net. Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri is proposing a new legislation that would remove the protections given by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA). This move could have some serious implications for tech companies such as Google and Facebook and the Internet as a whole.
The CDA is a legislation that was passed in 1996 that aimed at regulating the distribution of pornographic material on the internet. The bill states that anyone who shares obscene or indecent material such as pornography to any individual under the age of 18 will be subjected to criminal penalties. However, Hawley is targeting a specific provision of the CDA known as Section 230.
Section 230, also known as the Good Samaritan provision, protects online service providers from liability for any content posted by published by third parties in their platform. This type of immunity is the one Hawley is aiming to remove the protection granted by Section 230 with his new legislation. This is to hold companies such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, and others liable for malicious content like disinformation campaigns and terrorist propaganda.
The new legislation proposed by Hawley will also ensure that big tech companies that own social media platforms are not censoring user content due to political bias. Companies can avoid being held liable for third-party content if they submit themselves to a bi-yearly audit to demonstrate that their algorithms are politically neutral.
The CDA legislation was signed at a time where the internet was still at its infancy. However, the internet has matured into a technology that is ingrained in our daily lives. Changes to the CDA legislation will have far-reaching implications to the World Wide Web as we know it.