Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Law journal posts big article on threats to Section 230 while the Senate Commerce Committee approves SESTA.


Cindy Cohn and Jamie Williams wrote a valuable article for “Law.com” about the history of Section 230 over 20 years.Cindy Cohn and Jamie Williams wrote a valuable article for “Law.com” about the history of Section 230 over 20 years.  EFF has also shared the article on its own site. 

The article goes back to the 90s with the Zeran case (regarding possible defamation related to the Oklahoma City bombing) where someone tried to force AOL to take down harmful speech.  Soon it was apparent that the law needed to recognize a difference between “distribution” v. “publication” of speech, even after 230 had been past.

Another wave of attacks came with regard to responsibility for ads for housing that discriminated illegally.  We’ve seen something similar recently with Airbnb.


The article goes on to speculate about the burden on platforms.  Some of them, like Google, Facebook and Twitter, have considerable resources in dealing with some “dangerous” stuff (terrorism, for instance). I’m more concerned about hosting companies (Bluehost, for example) that are normally mucy more distant from their users.

Note also Eliot Harmon’s report on EFF that SESTA was just approved by the Senate Commerce Committee, with a lot of discussion of automated filters (like we saw with COPA).  

(See my COPA blog for related article today.) 

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