A primer on the costs of Section 230 and why even the threat of lawsuits can hurt startups.
New year, new Congress, same issues. The new year and the new Congress kicked off this week, but many of the policy debates that concerned startups in 2018 will continue on. As the Democrats take control of the House and the gavels of key committees, expect vigorous oversight of the Trump administration across the board, which is likely to impact several of the policy areas startups care most about, including trade, net neutrality at the Federal Communications Commission, and more.
As 2018 comes to a close, one key policy area that is sure to take center-stage in 2019 is the passage of the updated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), renamed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). While the USMCA is a big win for startups in several areas, Congress should continue to push the Administration in two areas to ensure that entrepreneurs will flourish under the new agreement. Overall, the USMCA sets a high standard for future free trade agreements and will positively impact the growth of American startups.
The Big Story: Europe passes online filtering rules.
This week, the European Parliament approved sweeping changes to its copyright regime, including Article 13, which would effectively require all websites hosting user generated content to adopt expensive and ineffective content filters. The proposal also creates a new IP right for publishers that requires websites to pay publishers if the website creates a link to the publisher’s content.
Current legal frameworks have allowed us to build creative online communities that have enabled musicians, writers, artists, developers, designers, and filmmakers throughout Europe to access a global online market. We are concerned that proposed changes to the European Copyright Directive, specifically Article 13, will threaten the existence of these vibrant online communities.
The following can be attributed to Engine Executive Director Evan Engstrom:
"We applaud Sen. Wyden's work to address some of our concerns with this legislation. We all support efforts to stop sex trafficking, but it is important to do so in a way that doesn't create unintended consequences for smaller internet companies that feature user-generated content. Sen. Wyden's amendments would help clarify that companies honestly engaging in content moderation won't face unexpected or unfair liability. That would make it substantially easier for platforms to proactively contribute to the fight against sex trafficking without fear of negative consequences."
Engine's statement following the announcement from the House Committee on Rules to consider H.R. 1865, the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) on Monday, February 26th and the proposed amendment by Rep. Walters to include language from the Senate’s Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA)
In the span of a few short decades, the Internet has quickly become the greatest medium for public engagement in the history of the world. The participatory nature of Web 2.0 is a direct product of policy decisions made in the Internet’s infancy to refrain from holding websites legally responsible for the actions and speech of users that they cannot fully control.
Tomorrow, our Executive Director Evan Engstrom will testify in front of a House subcommittee about the importance of a foundational Internet law and efforts to fight sex trafficking online.
The Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing on a new bill aimed at making it easier to penalize websites and online services that facilitate sex-trafficking.
While much of the hearing focused on the bipartisan and unanimous agreement that sex-trafficking is a tragedy that needs to be addressed, some lawmakers and witnesses noted the potential unintended consequences of the Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act (S.1693) as currently drafted.
As the Senate begins to consider the Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act of 2017 "SESTA," we have have tried to debunk some of the myths the bill's sponsors are saying about the legislation. Learn more about what you can do to protect Section 230 here.