The stubborn, misguided myth that Internet platforms must be ‘neutral’

Publication Type: 
Other Writing
Publication Date: 
July 29, 2019

Lately, politicians and news sources have been repeating a persistent myth about, of all things, technology law. The myth concerns a provision of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, generally known as Section 230 or CDA 230.

The law protects intermediaries, ranging from Internet access providers to popular platforms like YouTube or Reddit, from being sued for things their users say. It is widely (if hyperbolically) credited with creating the Internet.

The “neutrality” idea, which has been raised by critics on the left and the right, seems to have gained particular currency among conservatives like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), who has insisted that the law protects only sites that act as “neutral public forums.” Similarly, critics like Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) have claimed that this immunity is available only to platforms “providing a forum free of political censorship.” Platforms that are not “neutral,” Hawley says, face the same legal responsibilities as a publisher like The Washington Post.

Read the full piece at The Washington Post