October 28, 2020

Senate Commerce Hearing Highlights Need For Bipartisan Manchin Bill To Amend Section 230

Manchin, Cornyn bill would amend Section 230 to stop illicit sale of opioids and other drugs online

 Charleston, WV – Today, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee held a hearing on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and the need for updates to the law, including changes to address illegal Internet activity. U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) recently introduced the bipartisan See Something, Say Something Online Act to amend Section 230 to require companies to report illegal activities online, including the sale of opioids and other drugs, or lose their privileges under the law.

“Since the creation of Section 230 over two decades ago, the Internet has changed drastically and our laws have failed to keep up. Today’s Senate Commerce hearing highlighted the need for Congress to update Section 230 to reflect the way we use the Internet today – both good and bad. That includes the increasing use of social media platforms to buy and sell illegal drugs, and the lack of cooperation between many companies and law enforcement to stop these illegal activities. While many debate how to update Section 230, Senator Cornyn and I have introduced bipartisan, commonsense legislation to address illegal activities online. Stopping the sale of illegal opioids is something we can all agree on and I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join my bipartisan, commonsense legislation to address these issues online,” said Senator Manchin.

The See Something, Say Something Online Act would change Section 230 by:

  • Requiring companies to report suspicious activity to law enforcement, similar to the way that banks are required to report suspicious transactions over $10,000 or others that might signal criminal activity.
  • Creating a system similar to the Bank Secrecy Act by authorizing the creation of an office within the Department of Justice (DOJ) to act as the clearinghouse for these reports, similar to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) within the Department of Treasury.
  • Raising the threshold for reporting to serious crimes like illegal drug sales, hate crimes, murder, or terrorism to ensure that users’ privacy remains safe.
  • Requiring that companies must take reasonable steps to prevent or address unlawful activity and can be held liable if they fail to report criminal activity.

Background information on the See Something, Say Something Online Act can be found here