Craigslist Founder Craig Newmark and the Electronic Frontier Foundation jointly released an infographic which details the benefits of a federal law which they argue is a mainstay in protecting free speech on the Internet
CDA 230 is a part of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, and it essentially shields “interactive computer service providers” from liability for information posted or published by users of their systems. It also prevents providers from being forced to censor their user content. Section 230 was retained after other parts of the CDA were struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court and has been a valuable defense against legal challenges for Internet intermediaries ever since.
Craigslist Founder Craig Newmark and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) released an infographic this week which outlines the benefits of CD 230 and why it’s so vital to the growth of a healthy Internet.
“CDA 230: the Most Important Law Protecting Internet Speech” is a fact-filled look at the law which prevents websites, blogs and forums from being targeted as a means to silence free speech. It protects web services and social networks from being sued for hosting third-party speech and comments.
“This law helps protect free speech online,” said Newmark, who participated in the creation of the info graphic through his craigconnects initiative. “It’s made a huge contribution to the explosion of innovation and expression online, and we need it.”
“Congress got it fundamentally right in passing CDA 230,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. “Speech should not be left vulnerable to collateral threats aimed at providers who allow millions of people to speak and obtain information online. Providing strong legal safeguards for Internet platforms ensures that as many people as possible have the opportunity to participate online.”
“If we lost this law it would probably destroy the Web as we know it,” added Newmark. He said that if CDA 230 did not exist, popular sites such as Huffington Post, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Reddit and others could be sued every time a user crossed the line. Blogs, forums and other sites that often deal with controversial issues could be held legally accountable for comments made by third parties. Innovation would be diminished as new social media platforms and products would face huge new obstacles to getting started. Review sites such as Yelp, Trip Advisor, and Angie’s List could similarly be pressured to silence unpopular opinions.
“Countless sites and online services that people rely on every day exist because of a legal and technical framework that encourages the hosting of a wide range of speech and not censoring what we say, what we see, and what we do online,” said Zimmerman. “CDA 230 is instrumental in protecting that framework.”
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