A 23-year-old law giving tech firms legal protection from suits over user-generated content stays critical to the internet’s future, Alphabet’s Google unit, and social media website Reddit said in a deposition released on Tuesday.
Senior officials from Google, Reddit, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and legal experts are due to face querries on Wednesday in Congress about the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which analysts say protects tech firms from addressing threatening, violent, dangerous, or bullying content.
Legislators from both main political parties have said Congress may make additional adjustments to the law to restrict firms’ immunity. In 2018, Congress made it easier for prosecutors and sex-trafficking victims to sue social media platforms, advertisers, and others that kept exploitative content on their platforms.
At issue is Section 230 of the act, which usually provides immunity to online platforms for content posted by users, though firms can still be held liable for content that violates prison or intellectual property law.
Advocates say the law has helped the speedy growth of web companies over the past 20 years and encouraged free speech.
Katherine Oyama, Google’s international head of intellectual property policy, mentioned Section 230 incentivizes “action against dangerous content,” and Google has over 10,000 people engaged in content moderation.