In the American Prospect: Revoking Big Tech’s Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card

Date: 5 Oct 2020 | posted in: agriculture, Retail | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

As debates ramp up about how Congress and watchdog agencies should address the monopoly power of Big Tech, ILSR legal fellow Shaoul Sussman argues in the American Prospect, with Hal Singer, that we must revoke the liability shield these platforms enjoy.

The liability shield was written into Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, at the dawn of the internet. The original purpose was to protect online service providers from liability when posting third-party content. In the era of dial-up, Sussman argues, regulators didn’t foresee the companies that now dominate the internet, and how this shield would give them a buffer that their counterpart brick-and-mortar retailers do not enjoy.

The resulting regulatory asymmetry, when combined with other forces such as the coronavirus, is perversely accelerating the demise of Main Street. If a mom-and-pop retailer sold an exploding hoverboard that killed its customers, it would face severe liability, and it should. There is no reason why Amazon should be treated differently.

For more about why Congress should remove this liability shield — and how — read Shaoul’s article here.

 

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Follow Susan Holmberg:
Susan Holmberg

Susan Holmberg is Senior Editor and Researcher with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s Independent Business Initiative. She writes on corporate power and inequality and has been published in the New York Times, Time, The Atlantic, The Nation, and Democracy Journal.

Follow Shaoul Sussman:
Shaoul Sussman

Shaoul Sussman is a Legal Fellow at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. His research focuses on the intersection of antitrust law and big tech. Shaoul has published an academic paper and a number of articles about Amazon’s anticompetitive practices and the company’s negative influence on firms that rely on its e-commerce platform.