Section 230: An Overview (Paperback)

Section 230: An Overview By Eric N. Holmes, Congressional Research Service, Valerie C. Brannon Cover Image

Section 230: An Overview (Paperback)

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Section 230 of the Communications Act of 1934, enacted as part of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, provides limited federal immunity to providers and users of interactive computer services. The law generally precludes providers and users from being held liable-that is, legally responsible-for information provided by a third party, but does not prevent them from being held legally responsible for information that they have developed or for activities unrelated to third-party content. Courts have interpreted Section 230 to foreclose a wide variety of lawsuits and to preempt laws that would make providers and users liable for third-party content. For example, the law has been applied to protect online service providers like social media companies from lawsuits based on their decisions to transmit or take down user-generated content.Two provisions of Section 230 are the primary framework for this immunity. First, Section 230(c)(1) specifies that service providers and users may not "be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider." In Zeran v. America Online, Inc., an influential case interpreting this provision, a federal appeals court said that Section 230(c)(1) bars "lawsuits seeking to hold a service provider liable for its exercise of a publisher's traditionaleditorial functions-such as deciding whether to publish, withdraw, postpone or alter content." Second, Section 230(c)(2) states that service providers and users may not be held liable for voluntarily acting in good faith to restrict access to "obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable" material. Section 230(c)(2) is thus more limited: it applies only to good-faith takedowns of objectionable material, while courts have interpreted Section 230(c)(1)to apply to both distribution and takedown decisions.Section 230 contains statutory exceptions. This federal immunity generally will not apply to suits brought under federal criminal law, intellectual property law, any state law "consistent" with Section 230, certain privacy laws applicable to electronic communications, or certain federal and state laws relating to sex trafficking.
Product Details ISBN: 9798738076206
Publisher: Independently Published
Publication Date: April 14th, 2021
Pages: 62
Language: English