Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (a common name for Title V of the Telecommunications Act of 1996) is a landmark piece of Internet legislation in the United States, codified at 47 U.S.C. § 230. Section 230(c)(1) provides immunity from liability for providers and users of an "interactive computer service" who publish information provided by third-party users:
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.
In analyzing the availability of the immunity offered by this provision, courts generally apply a three-prong test. A defendant must satisfy each of the three prongs to gain the benefit of the immunity:
- The defendant must be a "provider or user" of an "interactive computer service."
- The cause of action asserted by the plaintiff must treat the defendant as the "publisher or speaker" of the harmful information at issue.
- The information must be "provided by another information content provider," i.e., the defendant must not be the "information content provider" of the harmful information at issue.
Prior to the Internet, case law was clear that a liability line was drawn between publishers of content and distributors of content; publishers would be expected to have awareness of material it was publishing and thus should be held liable for any illegal content it published, while distributors would likely not be aware and thus would be immune. This was established in Smith v. California (1959), where the Supreme Court ruled that putting liability on the provider (a book store in this case) would have "a collateral effect of inhibiting the freedom of expression, by making the individual the more reluctant to exercise it."
In the early 1990s, the Internet became more widely adopted and created means for users to engage in forums and other user-generated content. While this helped to expand the use of the Internet, it also resulted in a number of legal cases putting service providers at fault for the content generated by its users. This concern was raised by legal challenges against CompuServe and Prodigy, early service providers at this time. CompuServe stated they would not attempt to regulate what users posted on their services, while Prodigy had employed a team of moderators to validate content. Both faced legal challenges related to content posted by their users. In Cubby, Inc. v. CompuServe Inc., CompuServe was found not be at fault as, by its stance as allowing all content to go unmoderated, it was a distributor and thus not liable for libelous content posted by users. However, Stratton Oakmont, Inc. v. Prodigy Services Co. found that as Prodigy had taken an editorial role with regard to customer content, it was a publisher and legally responsible for libel committed by customers. 
Service providers made their Congresspersons aware of these cases, believing that if upheld across the nation, it would stifle the growth of the Internet. At the time, Congress was preparing the Communications Decency Act (CDA), part of the omnibus Telecommunications Act of 1996, which was designed to make knowingly sending indecent or obscene material to minors a criminal offense. Based on the Stratton Oakmont decision, Congress recognized that by requiring service providers to block indecent content would make them be treated as publishers in context of the First Amendment and thus become liable for other illegal content such as libel, not set out in the existing CDA. Representatives Christopher Cox (R-CA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) wrote the bill's section 509, titled the Internet Freedom and Family Empowerment Act, designed to override the decision from Stratton Oakmont, so that services providers could moderate content as necessary and did not have to act as a wholly neutral conduit. The new Act was added the section while the CDA was in conference within the House. The overall Telecommunications Act, with both the CDA and Cox/Wyden's provision, passed both Houses by near-unanimous votes and signed into law by President Bill Clinton by February 1996. Cox/Wyden's section was codified as Section 230 in Title 47 of the US Code.
The anti-indecency portion of the CDA was immediately challenged on passage, resulting in the Supreme Court 1997 in Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union that ruled all of the anti-indecency sections of the CDA were unconstitutional, but left Section 230. One of the first legal challenges to Section 230 Zeran v. America Online, Inc., in which a Federal court affirmed that the purpose of Section 230 as passed by Congress was "to remove the disincentives to self-regulation created by the Stratton Oakmont decision". Under that court's holding, computer service providers who regulated the dissemination of offensive material on their services risked subjecting themselves to liability, because such regulation cast the service provider in the role of a publisher. Fearing that the specter of liability would therefore deter service providers from blocking and screening offensive material, Congress enacted § 230's broad immunity "to remove disincentives for the development and utilization of blocking and filtering technologies that empower parents to restrict their children's access to objectionable or inappropriate online material." In addition, Zeran notes "the amount of information communicated via interactive computer services is . . . staggering. The specter of tort liability in an area of such prolific speech would have an obviously chilling effect. It would be impossible for service providers to screen each of their millions of postings for possible problems. Faced with potential liability for each message republished by their services, interactive computer service providers might choose to severely restrict the number and type of messages posted. Congress considered the weight of the speech interests implicated and chose to immunize service providers to avoid any such restrictive effect."
Section 230 immunity is not unlimited. The statute specifically excepts federal criminal liability and intellectual property claims. However, state criminal laws have been held preempted in cases such as Backpage.com, LLC v. McKenna and Voicenet Commc'ns, Inc. v. Corbett (agreeing "[T]he plain language of the CDA provides ... immunity from inconsistent state criminal laws.").
As of mid-2016, courts have issued conflicting decisions regarding the scope of the intellectual property exclusion set forth in 47 U.S.C. § 230(e)(2). For example, in Perfect 10, Inc. v. CCBill, LLC, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the exception for intellectual property law applies only to federal intellectual property claims such as copyright infringement, trademark infringement, and patents, reversing a district court ruling that the exception applies to state-law right of publicity claims. The 9th Circuit's decision in Perfect 10 conflicts with conclusions from other courts including Doe v. Friendfinder. The Friendfinder court specifically discussed and rejected the lower court's reading of "intellectual property law" in CCBill and held that the immunity does not reach state right of publicity claims.
Additionally, with the passage of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in 1998, services provides must comply with additional requirements for copyright infringement to maintain "safe harbor" protections from liability, as defined in the DMCA's Title II, Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act.
The first major challenge to Section 230 was in Zeran v. AOL, a 1997 case decided at the Fourth Circuit. The case involved a person that sued America Online (AOL) for failing to remove, in a timely manner, libelous ads posted by AOL users that inappropriately connected his home phone number to the Oklahoma City bombing. The court found for AOL and upheld the constitutionality of Section 230, stating that Section 230 "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." This rule, cementing Section 230's liability protections, has been considered one of the most important case laws affecting the growth of the Internet, allowing websites to be able to incorporate user-generated content without fear of prosecution. However, at the same time, this has led to Section 230 being used as a shield for some website owners as courts have ruled Section 230 provides complete immunity for ISPs with regard to the torts committed by their users over their systems.
Around 2001, a University of Pennsylvania paper warned that "online sexual victimization of American children appears to have reached epidemic proportions" due to the allowances granted by Section 230. Over the next decade, advocates against such exploitation such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children pressured major websites to block or remove content related to sex trafficking, leading to sites like Facebook, MySpace, and Craigslist to pull such content. Because mainstream sites were blocking this content, those that engaged or profited from trafficking started to use more obscure sites, leading to the creation of sites like Backpage. In addition to removing these from the public eye, these new sites worked to obscure what trafficking was going on and who was behind it, limiting ability for law enforcement to take action. Backpage and similar sites quickly came under numerous lawsuits from victims of the sex traffickers and exploiters for enabling this crime, but the court continually found in favor of Backpage due to Section 230, and the Supreme Court let stand a Circuit Court decision in favor of Backpage due to Section 230 in January 2017.
Due to numerous complaints from constituents, the U.S. Congress started an investigation on Backpage and similar sites in January 2017, finding Backpage complicit in aiding and profiting from illegal sex trafficking. Subsequently, Congress introduced the FOSTA-SESTA bills: the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) in the U.S. House of Representative by Ann Wagner in April 2017, and the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) U.S. Senate bill introduced by Rob Portman in August 2017. Combined, the FOSTA-SESTA bills modified Section 230 to exempt services providers from Section 230 immunity when dealing with civil or criminal crimes related to sex trafficking, making them liable if they "knowingly assist, facilitate, or support sex trafficking," creating serious legal consequences for websites that profit from sex trafficking and give prosecutors tools they need to protect their communities and give victims a pathway to justice. The bill passed both Houses and was signed into law by President Donald Trump on April 11, 2018.
The bills were criticized by pro-free speech and pro-Internet groups as a "disguised internet censorship bill" that weakens the section 230 safe harbors, places unnecessary burdens on Internet companies and intermediaries that handle user-generated content or communications with service providers required to proactively take action against sex trafficking activities, and requires a "team of lawyers" to evaluate all possible scenarios under state and federal law (which may be financially unfeasible for smaller companies). Critics also argued that FOSTA-SESTA did not distinguish between consensual, legal sex offerings from non-consensual ones, and argued it would cause websites otherwise engaged in legal offerings of sex work would be threatened with liability charges. Online sex workers argued that the bill would harm their safety, as the platforms they utilize for offering and discussing sexual services in a legal manner (as an alternative to street prostitution) had begun to reduce their services or shut down entirely due to the threat of liability under the bill.
Many social media sites, notably Facebook and Twitter, came under scrutiny as a result of the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections, where it was alleged that Russian agents used the sites to spread propaganda and fake news to swing the election in favor of Donald Trump. These platforms also were criticized for not taking action against users that used the social media outlets for harassment and hate speech against others. Shortly after the passage of FOSTA-SESTA acts, some in Congress recognized that additional changes could be made to Section 230 to require service providers to deal with these bad actors, beyond what Section 230 already provided to them.
Some politicians, including Republican senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, have accused major social networks of displaying a bias against conservative perspectives when moderating content (such as Twitter suspensions). In a Fox News op-ed, Cruz argued that section 230 should only apply to providers that are politically "neutral", suggesting that a provider "should be considered to be a [liable] 'publisher or speaker' of user content if they pick and choose what gets published or spoke." Section 230 does not contain any requirements that moderation decisions be neutral. Hawley alleged that section 230 safe harbors were a "sweetheart deal between big tech and big government".
In December 2018, Republican house representative Louie Gohmert introduced the Biased Algorithm Deterrence Act, which would remove all section 230 protections for any provider that used filters or any other type of algorithms to display user content when otherwise not directed by a user.
In June 2019, Hawley introduced the Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act, that would remove section 230 protections from companies whose services have more than 30 million active monthly users in the U.S. and more than 300 million worldwide, or have over $500 million in annual global revenue, unless they receive a certification from the majority of the Federal Trade Commission that they do not moderate against any political viewpoint, and have not done so in the past 2 years.
There has been bi-partisan criticism of the proposed bill, with only extreme right-leaning groups showing clear support. Many Republicans feared that by adding FTC oversight, the bill would continue to fuel fears of a big government with excessive oversight powers. Law professor Jeff Kosseff (who had spoken about section 230 at length with Cox and Wyden and lobbyists at the time Section 230 was introduced) argued that political neutrality was not the intent of Section 230, but rather making sure providers had the ability to make content-removal judgements without fear of liability. There have been concerns that any attempt to weaken section 230 could actually cause an increase in censorship when services lose their liability.
Immunity was upheld against claims that AOL unreasonably delayed in removing defamatory messages posted by third party, failed to post retractions, and failed to screen for similar postings.
The court upheld AOL's immunity from liability for defamation. AOL's agreement with the contractor allowing AOL to modify or remove such content did not make AOL the "information content provider" because the content was created by an independent contractor. The Court noted that Congress made a policy choice by "providing immunity even where the interactive service provider has an active, even aggressive role in making available content prepared by others."
The court upheld immunity for an Internet dating service provider from liability stemming from third party's submission of a false profile. The plaintiff, Carafano, claimed the false profile defamed her, but because the content was created by a third party, the website was immune, even though it had provided multiple choice selections to aid profile creation.
- Batzel v. Smith, 333 F.3d 1018 (9th Cir. 2003).
Immunity was upheld for a website operator for distributing an email to a listserv where the plaintiff claimed the email was defamatory. Though there was a question as to whether the information provider intended to send the email to the listserv, the Court decided that for determining the liability of the service provider, "the focus should be not on the information provider's intentions or knowledge when transmitting content but, instead, on the service provider's or user's reasonable perception of those intentions or knowledge." The Court found immunity proper "under circumstances in which a reasonable person in the position of the service provider or user would conclude that the information was provided for publication on the Internet or other 'interactive computer service'."
- Green v. AOL, 318 F.3d 465 (3rd Cir. 2003).
The court upheld immunity for AOL against allegations of negligence. Green claimed AOL failed to adequately police its services and allowed third parties to defame him and inflict intentional emotional distress. The court rejected these arguments because holding AOL negligent in promulgating harmful content would be equivalent to holding AOL "liable for decisions relating to the monitoring, screening, and deletion of content from its network -- actions quintessentially related to a publisher's role."
Immunity was upheld for an individual internet user from liability for republication of defamatory statements on a listserv. The court found the defendant to be a "user of interactive computer services" and thus immune from liability for posting information passed to her by the author.
- MCW, Inc. v. badbusinessbureau.com(RipOff Report/Ed Magedson/XCENTRIC Ventures LLC) 2004 WL 833595, No. Civ.A.3:02-CV-2727-G (N.D. Tex. April 19, 2004).
The court rejected the defendant's motion to dismiss on the grounds of Section 230 immunity, ruling that the plaintiff's allegations that the defendants wrote disparaging report titles and headings, and themselves wrote disparaging editorial messages about the plaintiff, rendered them information content providers. The Web site, www.badbusinessbureau.com, allows users to upload "reports" containing complaints about businesses they have dealt with.
- Hy Cite Corp. v. badbusinessbureau.com (RipOff Report/Ed Magedson/XCENTRIC Ventures LLC), 418 F. Supp. 2d 1142 (D. Ariz. 2005).
The court rejected immunity and found the defendant was an "information content provider" under Section 230 using much of the same reasoning as the MCW case.
- Gentry v. eBay, Inc., 99 Cal. App. 4th 816, 830 (2002).
eBay's immunity was upheld for claims based on forged autograph sports items purchased on the auction site.
- Ben Ezra, Weinstein & Co. v. America Online, 206 F.3d 980, 984-985 (10th Cir. 2000), cert. denied, 531 U.S. 824 (2000).
Immunity for AOL was upheld against liability for a user's posting of incorrect stock information.
- Goddard v. Google, Inc., C 08-2738 JF (PVT), 2008 WL 5245490, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101890 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 17, 2008).
Immunity was upheld against claims of fraud and money laundering. Google was not responsible for misleading advertising created by third parties who bought space on Google's pages. The court found the creative pleading of money laundering did not cause the case to fall into the crime exception to Section 230 immunity.
Sexually explicit content and minorsEdit
- Doe v. America Online, 783 So. 2d 1010, 1013-1017 (Fl. 2001), cert. denied, 122 S.Ct. 208 (2000).
The court upheld immunity against state claims of negligence based on "chat room marketing" of obscene photographs of minor by a third party.
- Kathleen R. v. City of Livermore, 87 Cal. App. 4th 684, 692 (2001).
The California Court of Appeal upheld the immunity of a city from claims of waste of public funds, nuisance, premises liability, and denial of substantive due process. The plaintiff's child downloaded pornography from a public library's computers, which did not restrict access to minors. The court found the library was not responsible for the content of the internet and explicitly found that section 230(c)(1) immunity covers governmental entities and taxpayer causes of action.
The court upheld immunity for a social networking site from negligence and gross negligence liability for failing to institute safety measures to protect minors and failure to institute policies relating to age verification. The Does' daughter had lied about her age and communicated over MySpace with a man who later sexually assaulted her. In the court's view, the Does' allegations were "merely another way of claiming that MySpace was liable for publishing the communications."
The court upheld immunity for Craigslist against a county sheriff's claims that its "erotic services" section constituted a public nuisance because it caused or induced prostitution.
- Backpage.com v. McKenna, et al., CASE NO. C12-954-RSM
- Backpage.com LLC v Cooper, Case #: 12-cv-00654[SS1]
- Backpage.com LLC v Hoffman et al., Civil Action No. 13-cv-03952 (DMC) (JAD)
The court upheld immunity for Backpage in contesting a Washington state law (SB6251) that would have made providers of third-party content online liable for any crimes related to a minor in Washington state. The states of Tennessee and New Jersey later passed similar legislation. Backpage argued that the laws violated Section 230, the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution, and the First and Fifth Amendments. In all three cases the courts granted Backpage permanent injunctive relief and awarded them attorney's fees.
The court ruled in favor of Backpage after Sheriff Tom Dart of Cook County IL, a frequent critic of Backpage and its adult postings section, sent a letter on his official stationary to Visa and MasterCard demanding that these firms "immediately cease and desist" allowing the use of their credit cards to purchase ads on Backpage. Within two days both companies withdrew their services from Backpage. Backpage filed a lawsuit asking for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against Dart granting Backpage relief and return to the status quo prior to Dart sending the letter. Backpage alleged that Dart's actions were unconstitutional, violating the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the US Constitution as well as Section 230 of the CDA. Backpage asked for Dart to retract his "cease and desist" letters. After initially being denied the injunctive relief by a lower court, the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals reversed that decision and directed that a permanent injunction be issued enjoining Dart and his office from taking any actions "to coerce or threaten credit card companies…with sanctions intended to ban credit card or other financial services from being provided to Backpage.com." The court cited section 230 as part of its decision.
Discriminatory housing adsEdit
- Chicago Lawyers' Committee For Civil Rights Under Law, Inc. v. Craigslist, Inc. 519 F.3d 666 (7th Cir. 2008).
- In February 2012, the Ninth Circuit decided in THE FOLLOWING 2008 RULING, that Roommates.com did not violate the FHA because roommate selection is protected under the First Amendment, and it dismissed the case. This decision did not find the prior 2008 ruling to be reversed. Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley v. Roommate.com, LLC, 2012 WL 310849 (9th Cir. February 2, 2012).
- Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley v. Roommates.com, LLC, 521 F.3d 1157 (9th Cir. 2008) (en banc).
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected immunity for the Roommates.com roommate matching service for claims brought under the federal Fair Housing Act and California housing discrimination laws. The court concluded that the manner in which the service elicited information from users concerning their roommate preferences (by having dropdowns specifying gender, presence of children, and sexual orientation), and the manner in which it utilized that information in generating roommate matches (by eliminating profiles that did not match user specifications), the matching service created or developed the information claimed to violate the FHA, and thus was responsible for it as an "information content provider." The court upheld immunity for the descriptions posted by users in the "Additional Comments" section because these were entirely created by users.
- Delfino v. Agilent Technologies, 145 Cal. App. 4th 790 (2006), cert denied, 128 S. Ct. 98 (2007).
A California Appellate Court unanimously upheld immunity from state tort claims arising from an employee's use of the employer's e-mail system to send threatening messages. The court concluded that an employer that provides Internet access to its employees qualifies as a "provider . . . of an interactive service."
Failure to warnEdit
- Jane Doe No. 14 v. Internet Brands, Inc., No. 12-56638 (9th Cir. Sept. 17, 2014).
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected immunity for claims of negligence under California law. Doe filed a complaint against Internet Brands which alleged a "failure to warn" her of a known rape scheme, despite her relationship to them as a ModelMayhem.com member. They also had requisite knowledge to avoid future victimization of ModelMayhem.com users by warning users of online sexual predators. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that the Communications Decency Act did not bar the claim and remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings.
Similar legislation in other countriesEdit
- Article 14 establishes that hosting providers are not responsible for the content they host as long as (1) the acts in question are neutral intermediary acts of a mere technical, automatic and passive capacity; (2) they are not informed of its illegal character, and (3) they act promptly to remove or disable access to the material when informed of it.
- Article 15 precludes member states from imposing general obligations to monitor hosted content for potential illegal activities.
However, the pending Article 17 of the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market would make providers liable if they fail to take "effective and proportionate measures" to prevent users from uploading certain copyright violations and do not response immediately to takedown requests.
In Dow Jones & Company Inc v Gutnick, the High Court of Australia treated defamatory material on a server outside Australia as having been published in Australia when it is downloaded or read by someone in Australia.
Gorton v Australian Broadcasting Commission & Anor (1973) 1 ACTR 6
Under the Defamation Act 2005 (NSW), s 32, a defence to defamation is that the defendant neither knew, nor ought reasonably to have known of the defamation, and the lack of knowledge was not due to the defendant's negligence.
Failing to investigate the material or to make inquiries of the user concerned may amount to negligence in this context: Jensen v Clark  2 NZLR 268.
Directive 2000/31/CE was transposed into the LCEN law. Article 6 of the law establishes safe haven for hosting provider as long as they follow certain rules.
In LICRA vs. Yahoo!, the High Court ordered Yahoo! to take affirmative steps to filter out Nazi memorabilia from its auction site. Yahoo!, Inc. and its then president Timothy Koogle were also criminally charged, but acquitted.
In 1997, Felix Somm, the former managing director for CompuServe Germany, was charged with violating German child pornography laws because of the material CompuServe's network was carrying into Germany. He was convicted and sentenced to two years probation on May 28, 1998. He was cleared on appeal on November 17, 1999.
The Oberlandesgericht (OLG) Cologne, an appellate court, found that an online auctioneer does not have an active duty to check for counterfeit goods (Az 6 U 12/01).
In one example, the first-instance district court of Hamburg issued a temporary restraining order requiring message board operator Universal Boards to review all comments before they can be posted to prevent the publication of messages inciting others to download harmful files. The court reasoned that "the publishing house must be held liable for spreading such material in the forum, regardless of whether it was aware of the content."
- Also see: Defamation Act 2013.
The laws of libel and defamation will treat a disseminator of information as having "published" material posted by a user, and the onus will then be on a defendant to prove that it did not know the publication was defamatory and was not negligent in failing to know: Goldsmith v Sperrings Ltd (1977) 2 All ER 566; Vizetelly v Mudie's Select Library Ltd (1900) 2 QB 170; Emmens v Pottle & Ors (1885) 16 QBD 354.
In an action against a website operator, on a statement posted on the website, it is a defence to show that it was not the operator who posted the statement on the website. The defence is defeated if it was not possible for the claimant to identify the person who posted the statement, or the claimant gave the operator a notice of complaint and the operator failed to respond in accordance with regulations.
- "Section 230 as First Amendment Rule". Harvard Law Review. 131: 2027. May 10, 2018. Retrieved June 21, 2019.
- Robertson, Adi (June 21, 2019). "Why The Internet's Most Important Law Exists And How People Are Still Getting It Wrong". The Verge. Retrieved June 21, 2019.
- Stratton Oakmont, Inc. v. Prodigy Services Co., 31063/94, 1995 WL 323710, 1995 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 712 Archived 2009-04-17 at the Wayback Machine (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 1995).
- Congressional Record. 140: H 8478. August 4, 1995. Missing or empty
- Reno v. ACLU, 521 844, 885 (United States Supreme Court 1997).
- Zeran v. Am. Online, Inc., 129 F.3d 327, 331 (4th Cir. 1997)
- 135 F. Supp. 409 (S.D.N.Y. 2001). (no immunity for contributory liability for trademark infringement). (criminal) and (intellectual property); see also Gucci America, Inc. v. Hall & Associates,
- Backpage.com, LLC v. McKenna, 881 F. Supp.2d 1262 (W.D. Wash. 2012).
- Voicenet Commc'ns, Inc. v. Corbett, 2006 WL 2506318, 4 (E.D.Pa. Aug. 30, 2006).
- Perfect 10, Inc. v. CCBill, LLC, 481 F.3d 751 (9th Cir. Mar. 29, 2007, amended May 31, 2007).
- Cf. Carafano v. Metrosplash.com, Inc., 339 F.3d 1119 (9th Cir. Aug. 13, 2003). (dismissing, inter alia, right of publicity claim under Section 230 without discussion). But see Doe v. Friendfinder Network, Inc., 540 F.Supp.2d 288 (D.N.H. 2008). (230 does not immunize against state IP claims, including right of publicity claims).
- Doe v. Friendfinder Network, Inc., 540 F.Supp.2d 288 (D.N.H. 2008).
- "Explainer: How Letting Platforms Decide What Content To Facilitate Is What Makes Section 230 Work". Above the Law. June 21, 2019. Retrieved July 2, 2019.
- 129 F.3d 330.
- Shroud, Matt (August 19, 2014). "These six lawsuits shaped the internet". The Verge. Retrieved July 2, 2019.
- Tushnet, Rebecca (August 28, 2008). "Power Without Responsibility: Intermediaries and the First Amendment". The Georgetown Law Journal. 76: 101–131. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
- Biederma, Christine (June 18, 2019). "Inside Backpage.com's Vicious Battle With the Feds". Wired. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
- Staff, Ars (2017-12-23). "How do you change the most important law in Internet history? Carefully". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2017-12-26.
- Chung, Andrew (January 9, 2017). "U.S. Supreme Court will not examine tech industry legal shield". Reuters. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
- Romero, Aja (July 2, 2018). "A new law intended to curb sex trafficking threatens the future of the internet as we know it". Vox. Retrieved July 2, 2019.
- Jackman, Tom (2017-08-01). "Senate launches bill to remove immunity for websites hosting illegal content, spurred by Backpage.com". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2017-12-26.
- Ann, Wagner (March 21, 2018). "H.R.1865 - 115th Congress (2017-2018): Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017". www.congress.gov.
- Elizabeth Dias (2018-04-11). "Trump Signs Bill Amid Momentum to Crack Down on Trafficking". New York Times. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
- Larry Magid (2018-04-06). "DOJ Seizes Backpage.com Weeks After Congress Passes Sex Trafficking Law". Forbes. Retrieved 2018-04-08.
- "ACLU letter opposing SESTA". American Civil Liberties Union. Retrieved 2018-03-25.
- "SWOP-USA stands in opposition of disguised internet censorship bill SESTA, S. 1963". Sex Workers Outreach Project. Retrieved 2017-10-23.
- "Wikipedia warns that SESTA will strip away protections vital to its existence". The Verge. Retrieved 2018-03-08.
- "Sex trafficking bill is turning into a proxy war over Google". The Verge. Retrieved 2017-09-20.
- Quinn, Melissa. "Tech community fighting online sex trafficking bill over fears it will stifle innovation". Washington Examiner. Retrieved 2017-09-20.
- "How a New Senate Bill Will Screw Over Sex Workers". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2018-03-25.
- Zimmerman, Amy (2018-04-04). "Sex Workers Fear for Their Future: How SESTA Is Putting Many Prostitutes in Peril". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2018-04-07.
- Zhou, Li; Scola, Nancy; Gold, Ashley (November 1, 2017). "Senators to Facebook, Google, Twitter: Wake up to Russian threat". Politico. Retrieved March 12, 2019.
- Harmon, Elliot (2018-04-12). "No, Section 230 Does Not Require Platforms to Be "Neutral"". Electronic Frontier Foundation. Retrieved 2019-07-17.
- Harmon, Elliot (2018-04-12). "No, Section 230 Does Not Require Platforms to Be "Neutral"". Electronic Frontier Foundation. Retrieved 2019-07-17.
- Robertson, Adi (2019-06-21). "Why the internet's most important law exists and how people are still getting it wrong". The Verge. Retrieved 2019-07-17.
- Lecher, Colin (2019-06-20). "Both parties are mad about a proposal for federal anti-bias certification". The Verge. Retrieved 2019-07-17.
- Masnick, Mike. "Ted Cruz Demands A Return Of The Fairness Doctrine, Which He Has Mocked In The Past, Due To Misunderstanding CDA 230". Techdirt. Retrieved 2019-07-17.
- Vas, Nicole (2019-03-19). "GOP steps up attack over tech bias claims". TheHill. Retrieved 2019-07-17.
- Eggerton, John. "Sen. Hawley: Big Tech's Sec. 230 Sweetheart Deal Must End". Multichannel. Retrieved 2019-07-17.
- MacMillan, John D. McKinnon and Douglas. "Google CEO Sundar Pichai Faces Lawmakers Skeptical Over Privacy, Alleged Anti-Conservative Bias". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2019-07-17.
- Evans, Glenn. "Gohmert bill targets filtering of conservative messages by social media platforms". Longview News-Journal. Retrieved 2019-07-17.
- Eggerton, John. "Hawley Bill Takes Big Bite Out of Big Tech's Sec. 230 Shield". Multichannel. Retrieved 2019-07-17.
- Wellons, Mary Catherine (June 18, 2019). "GOP senator introduces a bill that would blow up business models for Facebook, YouTube and other tech giants". CNBC. Retrieved June 21, 2019.
- Lecher, Colin (June 21, 2019). "Both parties are mad about a proposal for federal anti-bias certification". The Verge. Retrieved June 21, 2019.
- "Expect More Conservative Purges on Social Media If Republicans Target Section 230". Reason.com. 2018-11-28. Retrieved 2019-07-17.
- Zeran v. AOL Archived 2008-10-31 at the Wayback Machine, 129 F.3d 327 (4th Cir. 1997).
- Blumenthal v. Drudge, 992 F. Supp. 44, 49-53 (D.D.C. 1998).
- Carafano v. Metrosplash.com, 339 F.3d 1119 (9th Cir. 2003).
- Batzel v. Smith, 333 F.3d 1018 (9th Cir. 2003).
- Green v. AOL Archived 2008-05-12 at the Wayback Machine, 318 F.3d 465 (3rd Cir. 2003).
- Barrett v. Rosenthal, 40 Cal. 4th 33 (2006).
- MCW, Inc. v. badbusinessbureau.com, L.L.C. 2004 WL 833595, No. Civ.A.3:02-CV-2727-G, (N.D. Tex. April 19, 2004).
- Hy Cite Corp. v. badbusinessbureau.com, 418 F. Supp. 2d 1142 (D. Ariz. 2005).
- Gentry v. eBay, Inc., 99 Cal. App. 4th 816, 830 (2002).
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- 47 U.S.C. § 230
- Margaret Jane Radin et al., Internet Commerce: The Emerging Legal Framework 1091-1136 (2nd ed. 2006)
- The Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Article 12
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights - Article 17 (1), (2)
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- Full text of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
- Citizen Media Law Project's primer on Section 230
- Cybertelecom :: The Communications Decency Act
- Electronic Frontier Foundation FAQ on Section 230
- Kenneth Zeran Commentary
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