How Jack Dorsey will defend Twitter in tomorrow’s Senate hearing on Section 230 – ProWellTech
Three of the top tech CEOs will face the Senate Commerce Committee tomorrow in a virtual hearing, and their opening statements begin to trickle.
The hearing, scheduled for 10am ET on Wednesday, will see Twitter Jack Dorsey, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Alphabet’s Sundar Pichai on the hot seat for what is sure to be a long and winding session on how to curb big tech “bad behavior”.
Specifically, the hearing will delve into a law known as Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a key legal provision that protects online activities from content created by their users.
With the tide of public opinion turning against social networks in light of the algorithmically amplified societal problems, lawmakers are eager to do something on the unregulated power of great technology – they still can’t agree on what.
A number of competing pieces of legislation have recently proposed changes to Section 230, but it is not yet clear which set of changes, if any, will prevail in Congress. While both political parties may agree that big technology needs control of its power, they come to this conclusion from very different paths. Republicans remain busy with claims of anti-conservative political bias in technology, while Democrats are focused on platforms’ failure to remove disinformation and other dangerous content.
Tech companies see any interest in altering Section 230 as an existential threat, and rightly so. The law is essential to grow any type of online platform with user-created content (social networks, comment sections, even Amazon reviews) without being reported into oblivion.
In his opening statement, Dorsey calls Section 230 “the Internet’s most important law for free speech and security” and focuses on the kind of cascading effects that could arise if the technology’s key legal shield were lifted.
“We need to make sure all voices can be heard and we continue to improve our service so that everyone feels safe participating in the public conversation, whether they are speaking or just listening,” writes Dorsey. “The protections offered by Section 230 help us achieve this important goal.”
Dorsey argues that the dismantling of Section 230 would result in the removal of much more content – a line of reasoning aimed at the continuing allegations of political censorship by Republicans.
He also makes the timely choice to defend Section 230 from an antitrust perspective, arguing that the law has allowed small internet companies to establish themselves. Dorsey warns that the changes to 230 would leave “only a small number of giant, well-funded tech companies,” resulting in an even more winning take-all environment.
Dorsey’s full opening statement is incorporated below.