Senate Commerce Committee Holds Hearing on PACT Act, Section 230

Senate Commerce Committee Holds Hearing on PACT Act, Section 230

WASHINGTON — This morning, the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet held a lengthy hearing on Section 230, assessing the impact of what the committee calls “the law that helped create the internet” and examining proposed reforms to it, particularly the PACT Act.

The hearing began at 7 a.m. (PDT) and continued for almost three hours, chaired by Senator John Thune (R-South Dakota). Many of the senators and witnesses participated via videoconference due to COVID-19 Senate regulations.

The purpose of the hearing was to "examine the important role of Section 230 in promoting and disseminating speech online, and the history, evolution and expansion of Section 230’s protections for online platforms."

It also aimed to “provide an opportunity to discuss ways to ensure platforms are accountable for their content moderation practices and what legislative measures, from transparency to accountability tools, can empower consumers online.”

The experts who were called as witnesses by the Subcommittee included Olivier Sylvain, Professor of Law at Fordham University; Jeff Kosseff, Assistant Professor at the United States Naval Academy’s Cyber Science Department; and Elizabeth Banker, Deputy General Counsel of the Internet Association.

But the star witness was former Orange County Representative Christopher Cox, who was the main author of Section 230 in the mid-1990s. Cox is currently the director of trade association NetChoice.

Cox patiently answered a variety of questions posed by the senators concerning the original purpose and intent behind Section 230. The senators asked about a host of different matters, depending on their particular interests, related to Section 230 and platform liability.

Several GOP senators used the hearing to criticize what they called social media platforms’ “viewpoint censorship” of political opinions.

FOSTA-SESTA was also mentioned as the precedent for bipartisan legislation that had stripped liability protections from platforms in cases of human trafficking. The prosecution of the former owners of Backpage.com — deeply related to the FOSTA-SESTA debate, although predating its signing by a few days — was invoked as an example of judicial confusion around Section 230.

The PACT Act is one of several projects that aim to reform the liability protections of Section 230.

Although there were important disagreements about whether targeting Section 230 was the best way to update the law for the current state of the internet and, as Senator Thune put it, “novel situations where we would like to see justice served,” a consensus between the senators and the witnesses was that the continuing evolution of the internet, AI and algorithms deserves "continued discussion."

This PACT Act hearing also presented a clear, sobering counterpoint to the recent Judiciary Committee hearing chaired by Lindsey Graham to rally support of his EARN IT Act, which would impose onerous compliance regulations on online companies and establish a committee appointed by Attorney General William Barr to police online content.

Copyright © 2024 Adnet Media. All Rights Reserved. XBIZ is a trademark of Adnet Media.
Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission is prohibited.

More News

Los Angeles-Area Man Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud Over Bogus Adult Sites

A Los Angeles-area man pleaded guilty on Monday to defrauding investors out of more than $1 million “by making false promises that they would receive an ownership interest in several adult entertainment webcam websites and then using their money on personal expenses, including luxury items,” according to the Department of Justice.

More Conservative Organizations Distance Themselves From Anti-Porn Project 2025

A growing list of conservative groups that previously endorsed Project 2025 — which calls for the criminalization of adult content production and distribution — have reportedly distanced themselves from the self-described “presidential transition” blueprint, following Donald Trump’s repeated claims that he disagrees with an unspecified number of its positions.

BranditScan Unveils Protection Plan for Adult Studios

BranditScan has launched a new content protection plan tailored specifically for adult studios.

CAM4 Debuts Weekly 'Skyy Knox's CAM Crawl' Livestream

CAM4 is launching "Skyy Knox’s CAM Crawl," a new livestream running every Sunday at 3 p.m. PDT.

Texas Judge Pauses AG Ken Paxton's Aylo Lawsuit Until SCOTUS Decision

A Texas district judge granted a request Wednesday to pause proceedings in the lawsuit filed by Attorney General Ken Paxton against Aylo over Pornhub’s alleged failure to implement Texas’ controversial age verification requirements, pending the outcome of the Free Speech Coalition-led lawsuit against Paxton, which will be heard by the Supreme Court during the next term.

Author of UN Report Recommending Worldwide Criminalization of Sex Work, Porn to Speak at NCOSE Summit

Jordanian activist Reem Alsalem, a special rapporteur on violence against women and girls at the United Nations Human Rights Council who recently issued a controversial report recommending that governments abolish all forms of sex work, including porn, will speak at anti-porn lobby NCOSE’s 2024 summit in August.

Spicey AI Voice Chat Platform Launches

Spicey AI, a platform that uses artificial intelligence to create interactive voice messages from chatbots based on adult performers, has launched.

Derek Hay Sentencing Hearing: Performers Give Impact Statements

The first day of the sentencing hearing for LA Direct Models’ Derek Hay, who pleaded guilty in May to one charge of conspiracy to commit pandering and a charge of perjury, took place in Los Angeles Wednesday.

Utherverse to Host 8th Annual VirtualCon in September

Virtual reality and metaverse technology company Utherverse will hold the eighth edition of its annual virtual conference, VirtualCon, from Sept. 26-28.

Pornhub Shuts Down Access in Nebraska Over Age Verification

Aylo began blocking access to Pornhub in Nebraska on Monday, in anticipation of the state’s new age verification law — one of many such bills promoted by religious conservatives around the country — which is scheduled to go into effect Thursday.

Show More