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.
If you like this post, be sure to sign up for the monthly Hometown Advantage newsletter for our latest reporting and research.