Sen. Ron Wyden Joins EFF on December 10 for Fireside Chat About the Future of Free Speech

San Francisco—Sen. Ron Wyden, a fierce advocate for the rights of technology users, will join EFF Legal Director Corynne McSherry on Thursday, December 10, for a livestream fireside chat about the fight to defend freedom of expression and innovation on the web.

Wyden is an original framer of Section 230, one of the legal pillars of the Internet. Section 230 protects online intermediaries—news websites, social media platforms, bloggers, online classifieds like craigslist, review sites like Yahoo, and much more—from lawsuits seeking to hold them legally responsible for what people who post or comment on their sites say and do.

Section 230 protects the online speech of ordinary people everywhere. Users can forward an email without worrying whether its contents might be deemed defamatory under some state’s law. People can comment on and review books. Job search services can allow employees to share their views on various employers. Women who share stories of sexual harassment as part of the @MeToo movement can do so with less fear that the services they rely on to tell those stories will cut them off to avoid legal threats. Universities can provide forums for students to share their work, which is especially important during the pandemic, all because of protections afforded by Section 230.

Anti-speech and anti-security bills introduced in Congress aimed at breaking Section 230, including the dangerous EARN IT Act, would give the government power to decide what speech should and should not be allowed on the web, in direct conflict with the free speech principles that underpin our democracy.

Blaming Section 230 for the perceived ills of big social media companies is convenient, but misguided,” said McSherry. “We’re pleased to host Sen. Wyden for an important discussion about the origins and intent of Section 230, and why repealing or significantly weakening the provision will not only threaten free speech for all users but also impede the emergence of alternative platforms and services.”

In addition to championing the free speech rights of users, Wyden wrote the first bill to protect net neutrality, and has defended strong encryption. Wyden has called for strong data privacy protections, and last fall introduced the most comprehensive bill to protect Americans’ personal details online, the Mind Your Own Business Act.

The hour-long fireside chat and Q&A begins at 4 pm Pacific Time, and will be livestreamed on TwitchFacebook Live, Twitter, and YouTube Live. More information about how to view the chat is available at https://eff.org/fc.

For more on the event:
https://www.eff.org/event/eff30-fireside-chat-section-230-and-free-speech-online

For more on Section 230:
https://www.eff.org/issues/cda230

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Author: Karen Gullo

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