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CTA Letter to Senators Warns Against Amending Section 230 of Communications Decency Act

Arlington, VA – August 3, 2017 – 

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) sent a letter today to Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) expressing concerns regarding the proposed amendments to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act contained in the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act.

"By enabling civil lawsuits, the legislation invites trial lawyers to bring an onslaught of frivolous and vexatious lawsuits against internet companies simply by including an allegation of sex trafficking," the letter reads. "Similarly, politically or financially motivated state attorneys general can be counted on to use the new loophole to bring broad and costly subpoenas against online platforms. Law abiding companies would bear the burden of these lawsuits, while bad actors could easily escape by changing their URL address or relocating abroad."

Congress' passage of Section 230 two decades ago was a visionary act as policymakers realized that if online intermediaries were held responsible for the actions of every user, the potential liability would be so massive that no reasonable person would start or invest in such a business. That forward-thinking approach to public policy helped pave the way for the U.S. to dominate the online economy, and allow U.S. companies, such as those represented in CTA's Disruptive Innovation Council, to become the central platform for the world's commerce, entertainment and communications. 

CTA's letter warns the Senators that "By creating new carve-outs to Section 230, the proposed legislation threatens to reverse these gains and cause significant harm to legitimate online services...Rather than advancing overly broad legislation that would harm legitimate U.S companies, we urge Congress to take a narrow approach that directly targets bad actors.  Specifically, Congress should urge the Department of Justice to aggressively use its powers to identify and prosecute the limited number of rogue websites that are violating the law."

To view the letter, click here.