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On July 28, Internet Association (IA) Deputy General Counsel Elizabeth Banker testified before the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet on the benefits of Section 230 and how it empowers IA member companies to moderate content. 

In the hearing on the PACT Act and Section 230, Banker outlined how Section 230 empowers internet companies to voluntarily set and enforce community guidelines and moderate their services to continually make them safer.

In her opening statement, Banker highlighted ways IA members are always learning and adapting their approaches to strike the appropriate balance between allowing expression and protecting users from concerns such as spam.

Providers must continually adjust detection efforts in real-time as spammers adopt new techniques to evade detection. The scale of these efforts is staggering — Facebook took action against 1.9 billion pieces of spam in a three month period. In multiple cases, Section 230 has shielded providers from lawsuits from spammers who sued over removing their spam material, and the courts have applied Section 230 and allowed the valuable work that the companies do to continue.

Banker also provided an overview of IA’s recent study covering over 500 court decisions involving Section 230 that provides a crucial analysis of lesser known cases that routinely escape the headlines.

These cases show that the law continues to perform as Congress intended, quietly protecting discussion boards operated by soccer parents, nurses, police associations, and labor union members and protecting them from lawsuits. When applied by courts, Section 230 is far from a blanket immunity.

Banker detailed the wide range of business models enabled by Section 230, and how the law’s protections allow different companies to operate and set community standards appropriate for their services.

In addition to social media members, we also have companies that have travel information… dating sites, job sites, and what is appropriate for one of those platforms may not be appropriate for one of the others. So it’s really important for our member companies that they have broad protections to be able to engage in the type of content moderation that helps users have a positive experience on their services and also builds trust and confidence in their services.

More Information

View The U.S. Senate Committee On Commerce, Science, & Transportation’s Page on The PACT Act and Section 230: The Impact of the Law that Helped Create the Internet and an Examination of Proposed Reforms for Today’s Online World