Why Section 230 Is Better Than the First Amendment

14 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2019 Last revised: 28 Jan 2020

See all articles by Eric Goldman

Eric Goldman

Santa Clara University - School of Law

Date Written: November 1, 2019


47 U.S.C. § 230 (“Section 230”) immunizes Internet services from liability for third-party content. This immunity acts as a crucial legal foundation for the modern Internet. However, growing skepticism about the Internet has placed the immunity in regulators’ sights.

If the First Amendment mirrors Section 230’s speech protections, narrowing Section 230 would be inconsequential. This Essay explains why that’s not the case. Section 230 provides defendants with more substantive and procedural benefits than the First Amendment does. Because the First Amendment does not backfill these benefits, reductions to Section 230’s scope pose serious risks to Internet speech.

Keywords: section 230, 47 usc 230, first amendment, free speech, communications decency act, cda, ugc

JEL Classification: K10, K41

Suggested Citation

Goldman, Eric, Why Section 230 Is Better Than the First Amendment (November 1, 2019). Notre Dame Law Review, Vol. 95, No. 33, 2019, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3351323 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3351323

Eric Goldman (Contact Author)

Santa Clara University - School of Law ( email )

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Santa Clara, CA 95053
United States
408-554-4369 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.ericgoldman.org

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