Avoiding Mandatory Transparency’s Pitfalls in Online Safety Legislation

Published in Lawfare
US Capitol Building on a sunny day The U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. (Wally Gobetz, https://flic.kr/p/6zNWe8; CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/)

On April 19, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) introduced a new bill, the STOP CSAM Act (an acronym for “child sex abuse material”). It’s the newest in a line of recent bills that attempt to promote greater safety online, in part by demanding more transparency from the providers of popular internet services. These bills all face a common dilemma: how to enhance public understanding of providers’ internal practices and policies without undermining the legislation’s central safety goal.