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ARL Publishes Issue Brief on Section 230 of Communications Decency Act

photo of a gavel with a paper cutout of a speech bubble
image by eskay lim on Unsplash

The 117th US Congress is holding hearings and debating bills on changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a 1996 law that protects internet service providers and internet users from liability for content shared by third parties, and for content moderation practices. During the 2021 ARL Spring Association Meeting, ARL member representatives and guests discussed ways that research libraries rely on the current law to provide internet access and host digital repositories of scholarly articles. Members concluded that they successfully rely on their own institutional content-moderation practices and policies, and that no change to the law is needed. The discussion group also determined that requiring political neutrality, as some legislators have proposed, is antithetical to library values, and would be difficult to implement.

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has released this Issue Brief: Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act: Research Library Perspectives that provides background on Section 230 and implications for libraries of the potential changes to the law, as well as a summary of the discussion held during the Spring Association Meeting. Through the discussion several ideas surfaced on how university and library policies connect to Section 230. A few illustrative examples from UC San Diego are included in the discussion summary.


About the Association of Research Libraries

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 125 research libraries in Canada and the US whose mission is to advance research, learning, and scholarly communication. The Association fosters the open exchange of ideas and expertise; advances diversity, equity, and inclusion; and pursues advocacy and public policy efforts that reflect the values of the library, scholarly, and higher education communities. ARL forges partnerships and catalyzes the collective efforts of research libraries to enable knowledge creation and to achieve enduring and barrier-free access to information. ARL is on the web at ARL.org.

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