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Hill to Take New Look at Social Media Liability Carve-Out

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, has signaled he wants to reconsider the Communications Decency Act's (Sec. 230) protections for edge providers from liability for third-party postings.

Asked by a reporter from Politico Tuesday (June 4) if he planned to revisit the section, he said yes.

Related: Sen. Wyden Says Zuckerberg Should Be Liable for Privacy Violations

That followed a Tweet last week in which Pallone hammered Facebook for not doing enough to weed out disinformation:


Sec. 230 was adopted by Congress under the theory that those platforms were simply the online public square of ideas and that to make them liable would blow up their business model, or at the time (1996), nip it in the bud.

Related: Big Tech's Sec. 230 Sweetheart Deal Must End

That bud has bloomed and Congress is taking another look in the wake of concerns over disinformation, hate speech, allegations of bias and censorship, and more.

Related: Sen. Wyden Says Days of Considering Edge As Neutral Platform Are Gone

Conservative group Americans for Prosperity did not like the sound of that Sec. 230 review.

“Chairman Pallone needs to seriously consider the consequences of dismantling one of the Internet’s most fundamental protection before his actions have virtually irreversible consequences," said senior tech policy analyst Billy Easley. "Further eroding Section 230 would only increase the likelihood of government censorship of free expression on the Internet." 

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.