WASHINGTON D.C. — Today, TechFreedom lead a coalition of civil society groups, trade associations and academics in encouraging officials from Canada, the U.S., and Mexico to include protections for online intermediaries in their efforts to modernize NAFTA.
The letter states:
The success of U.S. companies in exporting both digital services and physical goods, sold through the Internet, has greatly contributed to America’s overall balance of trade, but it would not have been possible without Section 230. Uncertainty about intermediary liability in Canada and Mexico frustrates NAFTA’s primary goal of “eliminat[ing] barriers to trade in, and facilitat[ing] the cross-border movement of, goods and services,” both because U.S. companies are unsure of their potential liability in Canada and Mexico and because it is difficult for Canadian and Mexican Internet-based services to get off the ground. The latter denies Canadian and Mexican companies the benefits of “fair competition in the free trade area,” NAFTA’s secondary goal. Overall, consumers in all three countries suffer from less robust digital trade, competition and innovation than would be possible with consistent standards for intermediary liability.
“American innovators have led the Digital Revolution in large part due to the protections of Section 230, which ensures that companies can host and moderate user-generated content without fear of liability,” said TechFreedom President Berin Szóka. “Without those protections, even the biggest tech companies would be discouraged from empowering their users to speak freely. But for startups, the potential liability would be fatal.”
“The benefits of intermediary liability protections extend far beyond competition and innovation,” concluded Szóka. “Platforms for user-generated content give voices to the previously disenfranchised, online reviews and reputations systems build consumer trust, and ‘Good Samaritan’ protections ensure that platforms can remove harmful content and cooperate with law enforcement without opening themselves up to needless liability.”