The modern internet in the United States is built on Section 230: the foundational legal protection that shields websites from civil liability for user-generated content. But in recent years, the statute has faced increasing criticism from scholars, advocates, and policymakers on left and right alike. Members of Congress have introduced dozens of proposals to reform or do away with Section 230 entirely, yet, few of these proposals seem to consider what happened the last time that Congress amended the statute. The Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) of 2018 carved out limited exceptions to Section 230, and, four years later, the law’s negative effects are still being felt.
On March 14, Brookings Senior Fellow and Lawfare Editor-in-Chief Benjamin Wittes moderated an expert panel discussion on FOSTA and its legacy and the future of Section 230 reform. Panelists also provided insights into how Congress can avoid its past mistakes in crafting internet legislation.