“I don't want to be a publisher!” Regulating liability for the sticky parts: An exploration of CDA Section 230, sex work, and user content
Over 20 years ago, the U.S. Congress passed Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a landmark piece of legislation which protected Internet platforms from liability for user generated content — a distinction from the editorial determinations made by publishers. This year, Congress passed the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA), reducing liability protections in Section 230 for certain types of speech. Targeted at sex trafficking, the new law not only immediately threatens the safety of sex workers, but also encroaches on the protections afforded online archives that host third party content, leading both the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Internet Archive to file suit to block the law. Further, the rise of fake news and partisan manipulators of platform content place further pressure on Internet hosts to take a more active editorial role, threatening the safe harbor of Section 230. We'll discuss the threats to information sharing, users, and free speech in this open conversation.
Peter Brantley is director of online strategy at the UC Davis Library. He worked previously as the Director of Digital Development at New York Public Library and the Director of Scholarly Communication at the open source not-for-profit Hypothes.is. Mr. Brantley worked at the Internet Archive on policy issues and open standards, and has managed technology groups at a variety of academic research libraries