Department of Justice to Hold Workshop on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act
The Department of Justice will hold a public workshop in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 19, 2020, titled “Section 230 – Nurturing Innovation or Fostering Unaccountability?,” to discuss Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, its expansive interpretation by the courts, its impact on the American people and business community, and whether improvements to the law should be made.
Drafted nearly 25 years ago in the early years of the internet to protect online businesses in their incipiency, Section 230 limited certain liabilities for interactive computer service providers for third-party content on their platforms. Courts have interpreted the scope of Section 230 broadly, leaving a wide array of online activity immune from lawsuits. Now that the industry has matured, valid questions have been raised regarding the broad scope of Section 230 and whether the immunity is still required in its current form.
Proponents claim that Section 230 immunity led to the flourishing of the internet and the creation of the online ecosystem we see today. Opponents, on the other hand, believe that the broad interpretation of Section 230 has prevented solutions to a variety of problems that continue to proliferate to the detriment of victims, law enforcement, and civil discourse. The Justice Department intends to examine these issues and identify and discuss potential solutions.
The workshop is free and open to the public, and will be held in the FBI Auditorium, 935 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20535, from 9 a.m. Eastern Time to 12:45 p.m. Eastern Time. If you are interested in attending, please register at https://www.justice.gov/ag/webform/section-230-workshop-registration by Feb. 9, 2020. As seating is limited, invitations to attend will be sent to registered participants on a first-come, first-served basis. Members of the press should also email Alexei.Woltornist@usdoj.gov.
Following the public workshop, the Justice Department will invite stakeholders with diverse perspectives for private listening sessions and roundtables to seek additional input and discuss the problems, benefits, and potential improvements to Section 230. The department will publish readouts on the various perspectives and debate from those meetings.
Reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities are available upon request. If you need such an accommodation, please contact the department by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Such requests should include a detailed description of the accommodations needed and a way to contact you if we need more information.
The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice. Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.