Monday, November 17, 2008

Communications Decency Act Section 230 Immunity

Whenever I am asked my opinion as to the future of the internet and where it is headed, I inevitably bring up the Communications Decency Act and Section 230 of the act which provides immunity to websites for the bad acts of their users. The competing interests are very compelling. On the one hand, immunity has allowed ground breaking innovation and, without it, we wouldn't have web 2.0 and sites such as Flickr, Myspace, Facebook and Youtube. Such sites would be mired in constant litigation for the bad acts of their users. Web 2.0 interaction and collaboration may cease.

On the other hand, anonymous and defamatory attacks are destroying the lives and reputations of thousands of individuals and small businesses online. My practice handles internet defamation cases every single day. Every employer or customer seems to "google" employees and businesses these days - and a certain percentage of the public is always going to believe outright lies, no matter how outrageous or anonymous.

I'd be interested to know where readers fall on this issue. One thing is for certain, when I am asked about Communications Decency Act reform, my one and only response to both website owners and defamed individuals and businesses is to write your congress person. Reform is coming, it is just a matter of who benefits most.

No comments: