Section 230, Big Tech and Anti Trust Moves


The Section 230 Topic

Control of the internet

On one level it makes sense - newspapers and magazines couldnt get away with providing Hate Speech or Porn platforms… on the other hand, acting as mere rolodex’s for this information how could they have liability?

To my mind the bill payer of internet access - domestic or mobile - should have to opt-in or opt-out of viewing services or content. If you want Porn and Gambling, fine; but you must actively indicate this.
If you do not want these or 18s films or War footage, fine; opt out; but again this must be indicated.

Moral, philosophical and legal problems solved by the market.

…But govts must legislate for this to shape the market.


We do this every day, by simply choosing what we want to watch, if you mean the bill payer can police access by minors then we will probably see a wholesale shift of content to the darkweb where boundaries between the content you consider undesirable and content generally considered illegal don’t usually exist.

It’s not certain this would happen but once the genie is out of the lantern there’s no going back.


Probably not the best opening article for the topic, but a good example of how it can be framed, the below article is more in the zone of the dynamic, what is at play and possibly what is at stake here.

Barr threatens tech’s prized legal shield

Attorney General William Barr is threatening the legal shield that prevents internet companies such as Facebook and Google from facing lawsuits over the extreme, exploitative and sometimes violent posts that circulate on their powerful platforms.

At a Department of Justice (DOJ) workshop devoted to the issue Wednesday, Barr warned that the largest technology firms have hidden behind the 1996 statute to avoid responsibility for “selling illegal and faulty products, connecting terrorists [and] facilitating child sexual exploitation.”

Barr’s comments bolstered the DOJ’s escalating battle against Big Tech. Law enforcement officials have accused the tech titans of obstructing criminal investigations and amassing too much power over the past decade. The DOJ is currently investigating the largest tech firms for antitrust concerns – and Barr said the department’s interest in Section 230 grew out of that probe.

“Online services … have evoked [legal] immunity even where they solicited or encouraged unlawful conduct, shared in illegal proceeds or helped perpetrators hide from law enforcement,” Barr said, placing blame both on the law — Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act — as well as the courts, which have interpreted it broadly in the more than 20 years since it was passed…

…The law shields tech companies, including Facebook as well as smaller companies such as Yelp, from assuming legal liability for content posted by their users. It also empowers the companies to make their own decisions about which pieces of content to take down — for instance, the law protects YouTube from facing legal repercussions for taking down a terrorist recruitment video.

The attorney general, who has taken aim at Section 230 in public remarks before, clarified that the DOJ is not ready to “advocate a position yet.” But he warned that the internet platforms lack oversight and, as private companies, are driven by the incentive to make the most money possible…

…The day was marked by sometimes-tense exchanges over how much responsibility the tech companies should assume over the most abhorrent crimes that happen on their platforms with millions and sometimes billions of users, including the proliferation of images of children being sexually exploited.

Yiota Souras, the general counsel of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said it’s “terrifying” to think that the largest platforms are removing those images of children on a “voluntary” basis.

Read Full Article Here:


All about Section 230, a rule that made the modern internet

OAKLAND, Calif. — Twenty-six words tucked into a 1996 law overhauling telecommunications have allowed companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google to grow into the giants they are today.

Those are the words President Donald Trump challenged in an executive order Thursday, one that would strip those protections if online platforms engaged in “editorial decisions” — including, in the president’s view, adding a fact-check warning to one of Trump’s tweets.

Under the U.S. law, internet companies are generally exempt from liability for the material users post on their networks. Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act — itself part of a broader telecom law — provides a legal “safe harbor” for internet companies.

But Trump and other politicians argue that Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms have abused that protection and should lose their immunity — or at least have to earn it by satisfying requirements set by the government.

…QUESTION: Just what is Section 230?

ANSWER: If a news site falsely calls you a swindler, you can sue the publisher for libel. But if someone posts that on Facebook, you can’t sue the company — just the person who posted it.

That’s thanks to Section 230, which states that “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.”

That legal phrase shields companies that can host trillions of messages from being sued into oblivion by anyone who feels wronged by something someone else has posted — whether their complaint is legitimate or not.

Section 230 also allows social platforms to moderate their services by removing posts that, for instance, are obscene or violate the services’ own standards, so long as they are acting in “good faith.”

QUESTION: Where did Section 230 come from?

The measure’s history dates back to the 1950s, when bookstore owners were being held liable for selling books containing “obscenity,” which is not protected by the First Amendment. One case eventually made it to the Supreme Court, which held that it created a “chilling effect” to hold someone liable for someone else’s content.

That meant plaintiffs had to prove that bookstore owners knew they were selling obscene books, said Jeff Kosseff, the author of “The Twenty-Six Words That Created the Internet,” a book about Section 230.

Fast-forward a few decades to when the commercial internet was taking off with services like CompuServe and Prodigy. Both offered online forums, but CompuServe chose not to moderate its, while Prodigy, seeking a family-friendly image, did.

CompuServe was sued over that, and the case was dismissed. Prodigy, however, got in trouble. The judge in their case ruled that “they exercised editorial control — so you’re more like a newspaper than a newsstand,” Kosseff said.

That didn’t sit well with politicians, who worried that outcome would discourage newly forming internet companies from moderating at all. And Section 230 was born.

“Today it protects both from liability for user posts as well as liability for any clams for moderating content,” Kosseff said…

Read full article here:


So offer the bill payer the ability to block/have access to the Dark web… its not that hard, honestly.


It actually is. Burner sims are dime a dozen, free wifi is ubiquitous, vpn apps readily available. Take torrents as an example, they’re still there with masses of reasonable quality content there for the taking and yet for years it was the subject of lots of debate and attempted blocking mechanisms, eircom tried. Media companies chnaged release schedules to get ahead of the torrents (e.g. Game of Thrones). Why didn’t it die? Today, gen z are behind the curve because they use smartphones and don’t use PC’s/laptops in the way millennials did at that age but torrents didn’t go away, they couldn’t be stopped.

As another example of controls that don’t work, related to me, IT admin in a secondary school, getting stick from the principal about why students were observed watching stuff they shouldn’t have been able to but there was no trace on the pc’s anywhere despite several layers of controls. They had been plugging bootable usb sticks with live Ubuntu images on them into the PC’s to bypass the controls and this was discovered only by watching CCTV of them doing this in the lab.

Why is pirating music not talked about anymore - because it became easy and nearly free to access most of it. Honestly it’s like stamping out (historically) poitin production or (modern times) teenagers experimenting with drugs - criminalisation, incarceration, education & huge resources wasted at borders, all been tried (Nancy Reagen and her “Just say NO” campaign derided rightly as one of the most naive in history) and yet still freely available in every village in Ireland.

Lets imagine the UK did implement the failed ‘porn block’, who decides what is and isn’t pornographic? Your ISP? A government committee? ANOTHER Quango? That’s a whole other labyrinth.


Sept 3rd

Google Brothers - Google pulls out of talks to lease 2,000 office spaces in Dublin