Large and Diverse Coalition Issues a Statement of Principles to Help Evaluate UGC Liability Reform Proposals

Yesterday, I posted a 2,300 word takedown of Sen. Hawley’s anti-Section 230 bill. That post took me at least 6 hours of drafting time, and 3 weeks of chronological time, to prepare. I separately wrote a deconstruction of the UK Online Harms White Paper (which I’ll post soon), which took me a month of chronological time and about 10 drafting hours to prepare. With the high volume of crazy Section 230 reform talk zinging around the beltway, it’s not scalable to do these kinds of detailed analyses on a threat-by-threat basis. Too many bad policy ideas, not enough me to go around.

Today, I’m part of a newly announced statement of principles, entitled Liability for User-Generated Content Online: Principles for Lawmakers, which should help address this problem. My quote explains my goal:

Washington DC is abuzz with casual soundbites about reforming Section 230–as if such reforms aren’t that big of a deal. In fact, reforming Section 230 could have seismic consequences for the Internet and our society. The principles announced today should help steer the conversation away from the biggest risks associated with amending Section 230.

When evaluating Section 230 reform proposals going forward, a good starting point will be to check off how many principles are violated by the proposal. Over time, ideally future aspiring Section 230 reformers will consider the principles first, before they assemble yet another misguided, counterproductive, and unhelpful proposal.

The statement was joined by a broad and diverse coalition of 50 academics and 27 civil society organizations. Our press release about the statement.

Independently, yesterday a group of “conservative” organizations released a letter in favor of Section 230.