Resolution Protecting Online Platforms and Services

Summary

The internet has created millions of jobs in the United States, generated billions of dollars of revenue, and led to trillions of dollars in economic value. One of the key reasons for the development of the internet, and internet-related economy, is Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act. This resolution recognizes Section 230’s vital role in the history of the internet and encourages its maintenance as essential to future innovations.

Resolution Protecting Online Platforms and Services

WHEREAS, the internet has created millions of new American jobs and generated billions of dollars in revenue for American businesses;

WHEREAS, online platforms enabled users to generate, upload, and share their own content, and this capability has become a core component of the online experience.

WHEREAS, ALEC’s principles of limited government and free markets suggest that the government should continue to take a light-touch approach to regulation online platforms and services.

WHEREAS, online platforms are businesses that should be allowed to operate in ways that best serve their users — and the government should not interfere with these businesses in order to advance a particular belief or policy.

WHEREAS, even if online platforms were to exhibit political bias in content display or moderation, the First Amendment protects this exercise of editorial discretion from government intervention.

WHEREAS, ALEC’s principles of limited-government and free markets oppose the use of antitrust law for political purposes.

WHEREAS, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is a federal law limiting the liability of online platforms and services for content that they themselves did not share in creating and has been vital to the growth of user-generated content and free expression online.

WHEREAS, Section 230(c)(1) of the Communications Decency Act ensures that websites will not be held liable as publishers for how they arrange, promote, or prioritize content, unless they are responsible for creating it;

WHEREAS, Section 230(c)(2)(A) of the Communications Decency Act limits the liability of online platforms for “any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable.”

WHEREAS, Section 230 limits the government’s ability to prosecute social media companies in parallel with the First Amendment’s protection of editorial discretion.

WHEREAS, Section 230 does not protect online platforms from liability for violations of federal criminal law or intellectual property law.

THEREFORE LET IT BE RESOLVED, ALEC finds that antitrust action against online platforms or services must be grounded in economic harms to competition, not the exercise of editorial discretion in content moderation, which is protected by the First Amendment as well as Section 230.

THEREFORE LET IT BE FURTHER RESOLVED, ALEC finds that it is well settled that the First Amendment restricts the government from regulating speech of online platforms or services.

THEREFORE LET IT BE FURTHER RESOLVED, ALEC finds that online platforms and services do not lose Section 230 protections solely by engaging in content moderation of content created by other individuals, and, indeed, Section 230 was intended to encourage such moderation by limiting second-guessing of such decisions

THEREFORE LET IT BE FURTHER RESOLVED, ALEC opposes any amendment of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act as the law already enables prosecution of online platforms and services for violations of federal criminal law or intellectual property law.