Schakowsky, Castor Introduce Online Consumer Protection Act

May 10, 2021
Press Release

Bill Text | Fact Sheet

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Chair of the Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and Congresswoman Kathy Castor (D-FL), a member of the Energy & Commerce Committee, announced the introduction of the Online Consumer Protection Act (OCPA). This legislation will address shortcomings of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which, along with overly broad court rulings on it, have failed to hold online platforms accountable to consumers.

“For too long technology companies have allowed harmful content to spread across their platforms in violation of their promises to consumers. Worse, they have used Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to shield themselves from illegal conduct on their websites that they knowingly facilitate. My colleague, Kathy Castor, and I have introduced the Online Consumer Protection Act to hold these companies accountable and ensure that if it’s illegal offline, then it’s also illegal online,” Rep. Schakowsky stated.

"Consumers need new tools to protect them on online platforms that often operate in bad faith without any repercussions. Consumers have the right to know what these companies’ policies are, and that they will be enforced. The Online Consumer Protection Act will protect consumers by ensuring online platforms have clear, transparent terms of service that must be enforced. In an increasingly online world, this will provide peace of mind for online consumers and allow the FTC to better execute their authority," said Rep. Castor.

James P. Steyer, Founder and CEO of Common Sense, stated, ”Social media sites and online marketplaces have to clean up their act, which the Online Consumer Protection Act will force them to do. Big tech companies must take their responsibilities to manage online content seriously, and that starts by holding them accountable for the promises they make. Establishing a formal consumer protection officer within these companies who reports to the CEO and requiring certification to the FTC will help ensure that consumer protections and the impact of those protections on our society are being factored into business decisions by tech CEOs.  We urge lawmakers to consider this important proposal from Rep. Schakowsky and Rep. Castor as part of their wider tech policy agenda.”

Roger McNamee, author of Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe, added, “This legislation is a paradigm shift. It will finally hold technology companies accountable for business practices that harm consumers. Despite promising to limit harmful content like disinformation, extremism, and fake products on their platforms, social media companies and online marketplaces have allowed this content to proliferate. The result has been a metastatic spread of this content. I applaud Representatives Schakowsky and Castor for introducing this bill today which will make technology companies liable for failing to uphold their agreements with consumers.”

Schakowsky added, “Social media companies and online marketplaces should enforce the rules they make and be held liable when they fail to do so. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle on the Consumer Protection and Commerce subcommittee and  pass this legislation swiftly to protect consumers and end the harmful business practices that have permitted disinformation and fraud to spread across the internet.”