Amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act
This petition had 32 supporters
The proposed amendment would alter Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act ("CDA") to require ISP's and host sites to remove defamatory, injurious, and/or illegal content from their site when given notice such content exists. Under the amendment the ISP/host site would have to remove such content within a reasonable time from the date they received notice of its existence.
Section 230 of the CDA has had the unplanned effect of unfairly stifling and injuring US and international business, furthering the sex trade and prostitution, and encouraging bullying and illegal and immoral content on the internet. The law purports to encourage free speech but in reality creates a safe harbor for "unjust, immoral, defamatory, and injurious" speech. It is important to note that while the US Constitution obviously protects free speech, this right is not absolute. No where does the US Constitution protect injurious or illegal speech, such as defamation, or solicitation for illegal or immoral products or services. While Section 230 of the CDA protects free speech and all its benefits, in its current form it also protects illegal, irresponsible, and injurious speech and all its detriments. Where Section 230 protects and promotes free speech it can remain without alteration, however, where the law promotes injurious and illegal speech it must be modified.
Such a modification would consist of amending the statute so that it no longer allows for host sites to post illegal and injurious content without liability after said host site/s have been provided notice that the illegal and injurious content exists on their site/s. Illegal and injurious content is limited to defamatory content, or any content that is illegal under any law of the United States or its respective States. Such content includes defamation, threatening or bullying speech, and solicitations for illegal acts. The proposed amendment in no way pertains to political speech.
The importance of said amendment is outlined below:
1. Section 230 in its current form stifles US businesses by protecting sites like ripoffreport.com from liability for hosting content that is defamatory and untrue. Although ripoffreport did not create the content, when given notice of the defamatory content under Section 230 in its current form they are not required to remove or modify the injurious content. In fact ripoffreport and businesses like it profit at the expense of US businesses under the current law because for a fee they will "investigate" the truthfulness of the defamatory content posted on their site.
2. Section 230 in its current form encourages the sex trade and prostitution because it has protected sites like craigslist.com from liability for removing the posts soliciting sex in their personals section, even when given notice the illegal content exists. It is important to note to our knowledge craigslist is attempting to remove the illegal content on its own but if they did not wish to under Section 230 they would not have to.
3. Section 230 protects and encourages bullying through social media on the internet. Although the person posting the content may be held responsible and punished. The social media site does not have to remove the content, no matter how threatening, slanderous, hurtful, or untrue said statements are. In fact the social media site is protected under Section 230 of the CDA, even when they are given notice the illegal content exists on their site.
4. Section 230 in its current form encourages illegal and immoral content on the internet by not requiring sites like facebook, myspace, or any other site to remove the illegal content when given notice it exists. Upon information and belief, the most egregious example of this occurred when facebook refused to remove a picture of a dead girl posted by a troubled individual, even after the dead girl's parents gave facebook notice of the pictures existence and sued them to remove it. Under Section 230 of the CDA the court was held impotent because under the law facebook did nothing wrong and was not required to remove the gruesome and hurtful photos. Although to our knowledge facebook eventually removed the pictures, upon information and belief they left the picture up for some time, and did not remove them until social pressure and outrage forced them to.
In its current form an accurate metaphor for Section 230 of the CDA would be providing safe harbor to a grocery store that is selling poisonous candy. Although the grocery store did not create the poisonous candy under Section 230 of the CDA it would be akin to allowing the grocery store to continue to sell the poisonous good without liability even after it were given notice the poisonous candy was being sold on its property. The flies in the face of justice and morality and shows why Section 230 of the CDA requires immediate amendment.
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