As president, Joe Biden has made it clear that he wants to lead the charge to change how Big Tech operates in the US. In a rare op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, Biden heavily criticized tech companies while outlining three broad areas of regulatory reform that he says that Congress should be weighing this year. Only with bipartisan action, Biden said, can the US do more to protect data privacy, prevent anti-competitive behavior, and “fundamentally reform Section 230,” by reversing course and holding platforms accountable for third-party content.
Not everyone agrees with Biden’s vision of a better future for US tech innovation, however. Perhaps the most disagreement is over his proposed Section 230 reforms. Republicans seem keen to revise Section 230, not because they want to hold platforms liable for content, but because they want to prevent a suspected content moderation bias against right-leaning users. Meanwhile, some nonpartisan critics have advised against Section 230 reforms proposed by both Democrats and Republicans. Among them is the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit that defends civil liberties online, which has long said that, as it stands now, Section 230 is “an essential legal pillar for online speech.”
“As it was originally written, Section 230 allows good-faith moderation by platforms without fear of taking on undue liability for their users’ posts,” EFF’s transition memo providing tech policy recommendations for Biden reads. “Altering the law to force the removal of so-called ‘disinformation,’ to demand the political neutrality of their decisions, or to broaden platform liability for already-unlawful content would have consequences that reach far beyond the intended targets.” The EFF did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment but warned in the memo that by weakening Section 230, Biden could trigger even more content removal, silence more users, and decrease overall functionality of the Internet.