Free Speech


Know Your Rights

has flourished, in a large way, due to the legal protections and rights
afforded posters and other content here. If the more facist elements in
our legal system have their way, it might not always be that way, as there
are some troubling recent rulings by federal district judges that have
chipped away at the legal shield that has protected websites.

legal shield comes from a portion of the 1996 Telecommunications Act,
which generally says Web sites aren’t liable for their users’ posts or
other content they provide. That has immunized the dot-com industry from
a wide range of civil lawsuits spanning everything from defamation to–in
a case decided last year involving MySpace–lawsuits alleging that better
child safety and age verification measures should have been put into place.
(Individual "content providers" who post defamatory comments,
upload inflammatory videos of their own creation, and the like, are still
vulnerable to lawsuits.)

early test cases such as Zeran v. AOL, courts have interpreted Section
230 of the Telecommunications Act to supply fairly broad immunity for
Web hosts. That trend has largely continued in recent years, with judges
finding, for example, that dating site Matchmaker.com was immune from
a lawsuit involving an unknown prankster’s phony profile impersonating
actress Christianne Carafano, and that Craigslist wasn’t responsible for
allegedly discriminatory housing ads posted by users of the online classifieds
Full story here.