June 24, 2021
Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Technology Association and CES in Las Vegas, in a recent address cautioned against proposed regulatory moves to curb online speech.
Speaking on the recent Media Institute’s Virtual Communications Forum, Shapiro discussed how limiting freedom of expression online will affect user-generated comments and reviews, small businesses and startups.
The Media Institute is a non-partisan organization focusing on the First Amendment and communications policy.
“Members of both political parties want to make Internet platforms responsible for user generated comments and reviews,” Shapiro said. “This is akin to making hotel owners responsible for guest behavior. Creating this liability given the huge amount of postings would severely crimp the value of these services and lead to an onslaught of opportunistic trial lawyer lawsuits.”
Instead, Shapiro called on government to provide “clear and reasonable” guardrails that give American companies legal certainty. The executive said tech and social media companies must be willing to “correct, accept and avoid infringing on IP, and defaming and slandering others.”
“This means having a process in place to correct or remove postings once platforms learn of legitimate and clear challenges,” Shapiro said. “We should encourage U.S. internet platforms to be more transparent about their content moderation decisions and give people more control over what they see on their feeds.”
The CEO called for collaboration between policymakers and innovators.
“We must move from less productive debates on shutting-off speech to more productive discussions,” Shapiro said.