DoC Should Promote Intermediary Liability Protections at Home and Abroad
CDT filed comments with the Association of Research Libraries and the American Library Association last week in the Department of Commerce's inquiry into the free flow of information on the Internet. The DOC's Internet Policy Task Force is examining the effects that restrictions on information flows have on the U.S. Internet and online services industries and the global economy.
We took this opportunity to emphasize to the DOC the importance of intermediary liability protections to free speech and innovation online. Freed from concerns over legal liability for their users' content, hosts and service providers are able to experiment and develop new platforms for speech and different ways to access and share information. U.S. businesses enjoy a dominant position in the Internet industry – particularly in areas like search and social networking that depend on user-generated content – due in large part to the liability protections they receive under Section 230 and the DMCA.
To support the free flow of information and the dynamic trade opportunities it enables both domestically and internationally, the U.S. must maintain its strong intermediary liability protections and resist efforts to convert intermediaries into gatekeepers and content police. CDT recommends that the Department of Commerce use its participation in trade negotiations and in inter-governmental fora to promote intermediary liability protections abroad and to advocate for consistent U.S. policy toward the treatment of Internet intermediaries.