David Allyn Dokich - Serial Child Rapist / High Risk Sex Offender

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Sections 230 protections

It's time for a little education regarding comments left on this blog by visitors.

Section 230 of Title 47 of the United States Code (47 USC § 230)

Section 230 says that "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider." This federal law preempts any state laws to the contrary: "[n]o cause of action may be brought and no liability may be imposed under any State or local law that is inconsistent with this section." The courts have repeatedly rejected attempts to limit the reach of Section 230 to "traditional" Internet service providers, instead treating many diverse entities as "interactive computer service providers."

What does that mean and how does it apply to me, your fearless blogger? Well since I created this blog and I allow comments to be left by visitors, I am considered the 'intereactive computer service'. Those leaving comments are considered third parties and 'information content providers'.

This means that I cannot be held liable for any statements left by visitors.

Look at it this way. Amazon sells books online. Amazon allows visitors to leave comments about the books. If I left a negative comment about a book or author, the author cannot go after Amazon for a comment I left.

The purpose of this statutory immunity is not difficult to discern. Congress recognized the threat that tort-based lawsuits pose to freedom of speech in the new and burgeoning Internet medium. The imposition of tort liability on service providers for the communications of others represented, for Congress, simply another form of intrusive government regulation of speech. Section 230 was enacted, in part, to maintain the robust nature of Internet communication and, accordingly, to keep government interference in the medium to a minimum.

Let's look at some case law.

Jerome SCHNEIDER v. AMAZON.COM, INC.

31 P.3d 37 (Wash. App. 2001)

Judge John J. Ellington - Court of Appeals of Georgia

"The Communications Decency Act immunizes Amazon.com, Inc. from liability for allegedly defamatory comments posted by third parties on Amazon's web site. We therefore affirm dismissal of all claims against Amazon."

Blumenthal v. Drudge and American Online, Inc.

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Civil Action No. 97-1968

April 22, 1998

As Chief Judge Wilkinson wrote for the Fourth Circuit:

"By its plain language, ß230 creates a federal immunity to any cause of action that would make service providers liable for information originating with a third-party user of the service. Specifically, ß230 precludes courts from entertaining claims that would place a computer service provider in a publisher's role. Thus, lawsuits seeking to hold a service provider liable for its exercise of a publisher's traditional editorial functions -- such as deciding whether to publish, withdraw, postpone or alter content --are barred."

Grace v. eBay, Inc., 2004

B168765 (Los Angeles County
Super. Ct. No. BS288836)

Plaintiff Roger M. Grace (“plaintiff”) appeals from a judgment of dismissal entered after the trial court sustained without leave to amend the demurrer to plaintiff’s complaint filed by defendant eBAY Inc. (“defendant”). Plaintiff’s suit seeks to hold defendant liable for allegedly defamatory material published on defendant’s internet website by another defendant, Tim Neeley. The trial court concluded that under federal communications law concerning computer services, plaintiff’s allegations cannot rise to a cause of action against defendant. We agree, and we affirm the judgment.

Source: http://www.eff.org/bloggers/lg/faq-230.php

You gotta love those folks at the Electronic Frontier Foundation

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