Small Online Providers
230 supports small organizations, but more is needed to stop baseless litigation
Chamber of Progress today released a new report detailing for the first time the impact of Section 230 litigation on individuals, non-profits, and other small online providers. Examining the history of cases against small providers who run niche websites, maintain comments sections, and foster open discussion online, the report illuminates the wide-ranging benefits of Section 230, as well as remaining gaps in the law.
Key report findings include:
- Section 230 protects important speech made possible by small providers;
- Small providers rely on Section 230 to mitigate damage from litigation;
- Section 230’s “procedural fast lane” has important economic and speech benefits;
- Anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) laws, when applicable, provide better outcomes for small providers, than Section 230 alone;
- But as many as 17 states still don’t have anti-SLAPP laws;
- A federal anti-SLAPP law would fill the gaps and ensure that small providers have adequate protection from meritless suits and a possibility of recovering the cost of their defense when they stand up for the speech of their users.
- Any changes to Section 230 aimed at Big Tech would have unintended consequences for small providers as well;
- Conditioning Section 230 immunity in ways that prolong litigation would have disastrous consequences for small providers.
“From neighborhood forums to niche blogs and local news sites, small providers bring the Internet to life for so many communities,” said report author Elizabeth Banker. “This report shows where Section 230 has given small providers the protections they need to keep posting and where the law has fallen short.”
Elizabeth Banker is Vice President of Legal Advocacy for Chamber of Progress, and brings twenty-five years of in-house, law firm, and trade association experience on intermediary liability, Section 230, and online safety. Read Protocol’s interview with Banker here.
Chamber of Progress (progresschamber.org) is a new center-left tech industry policy coalition promoting technology’s progressive future. We work to ensure that all Americans benefit from technological leaps, and that the tech industry operates responsibly and fairly.
Our corporate partners do not have a vote on or veto over our positions. We do not speak for individual partner companies and remain true to our stated principles even when our partners disagree.