Neil Brown, Managing Director, decoded:legal
Jess Miers, Santa Clara Law Tech Edge J.D. Candidate, Internet Law '21
Section 230 is a U.S. Internet law that essentially says websites are not liable for third-party, user-generated, content. Section 230 is often credited with creating the modern day Internet. However, there is growing debate around Section 230, online speech, content moderation, and the role large Internet companies, like Facebook and Google, play in our online ecosystem. From misinformation about COVID-19, to election integrity, moderation practices (such as fact-checking), privacy concerns, and childrens’ safety online, regulators are increasingly targeting Section 230 in an effort to rid the Internet of its ills.
In reality, Section 230 provides an important balance between harboring online free speech and mitigating harm. Indeed, Section 230, and its value, is often misunderstood by regulators and the general public. For example, many believe that Section 230 is redundant with the First Amendment. This presentation will provide an overview of Section 230, the debates surrounding the law, and its many misconceptions. This presentation will explore how Section 230 works both for Internet companies and their users, and how Section 230 vitally preserves online free expression while empowering websites to address online harms. This presentation will also explore some of the many challenges websites face regarding content moderation, and how Section 230 bolsters content moderation efforts. The discussion will end with an overview of the current proposed U.S. regulations that are targeting Section 230, and how those proposals will deeply frustrate any efforts to clean up the web.
Jess Miers is a rising third year law student at Santa Clara University School of Law where she studies Internet law and policy. During law school, Jess was a legal intern for Twitter, and TechFreedom (a technology policy think-tank based in Washington, D.C.). Currently, Jess is a Summer Research Associate for the UCLA Institute for Technology Law and Policy, where she speaks and writes about intermediary liability law. Her primary scholarship covers Section 230 and content moderation. As of recent, Jess is also a full-time Policy Specialist at Google. Please note that all opinions shared are her own and do not represent her previous or current employers.
Neil Brown is a solicitor and managing director of law firm decoded:Legal. Neil spent the first 10 years of his career at Vodafone, advising a whole range of technical teams including network operations, security and resiliency, and R&D, and he now advises clients doing all sorts of interesting technical stuff. His code works most of the time, and his interest in networking and IP services is evidenced by the myriad servers heating his house. Neil is an SCL Fellow.