Mozilla Weighs in on Accountability Legislation: Public policies like PATA can help to keep the Internet in the public’s best interest.

Large online platforms can help us connect with others, shop, work, and express ourselves, but they also play a key role in the spread of disinformation, discrimination against marginalized groups, romance scams, privacy violations, and other online harms. With the ever-evolving social media landscape, we must enact tools to scrutinize these platforms and safeguard the health of the Internet.

The recently reintroduced bipartisan Platform Accountability and Transparency Act (PATA), co-sponsored by Sens. Chris Coons (D-De.), Dr. Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Mitt Romney (R-Utah), offers such solutions. PATA would require social media platforms to provide access to data for public-interest research projects, and create valuable ad transparency. It would also establish a legal “safe harbor” that would enable legitimate public-interest research, free from threats of legal action (as we do in our Bug Bounty programs), while protecting privacy and security.

Jenn Hodges, Head of US Public Policy said: 

“Greater transparency from social media companies is a critical step to understanding and effectively solving hidden harms online. Mozilla’s research teams have seen firsthand how hard it is to access these insights. By shedding much-needed light on the tech ecosystem, the Platform Accountability and Transparency Act will help make the internet a safer, healthier place.”

Mozilla has a long track-record of advocating for researcher access to data in the US and globally. Robust transparency measures are necessary to give policymakers – and all of us – the insights we need to hold platforms accountable. Public policies like PATA can help to keep the Internet in the public’s best interest.