A loophole in Communications Decency Act Section 230 allows criminal libel to thrive on the Internet. Many website operators encourage, and sometimes manipulate the publishing of malicious defamation, as it may result in potential revenue for the website operator. Even if the published statement is proven to be false, the website operator often refuses to remove the Internet defamation. Such activity in any other publishing venue is by law a crime. But on the Internet, websites are free to publish permanent malicious statements about anyone, and an obsolete law allows them to get away with it. Internet defamation is claimed to have irreparably damaged innocent civilian lives, such as a reputable school teacher being forced from her job, a company in good standing being forced out of business, or an innocent child being bullied into suicide.
To protect the people of the United States from Cyber bullies and criminal defamation, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act must be amended to define the rights of victims of malicious defamation on the Internet. The legislation should declare that, upon a victim's request, if an Internet posting is clearly malicious, the website operator must remove the post, or be liable under the criminal libel laws of the state with jurisdiction.
The same civil protections that apply to newspaper, radio and TV should also apply to the Internet. In some states, criminal libel is a felony carrying up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $100,000 for the first offense. These laws also state that the owner or editor of the publishing company (newspaper, radio, tv) is also liable.
However, the United States Communications Decency Act Section 230 dismisses the owner or editor from liability for third party authored defamation that is published on a website. Section 230 was not intended to legalize such criminal activitiy when it was adopted in 1996. It's purpose was to nuture the growth of the Internet by providing legal exemptions. However, fifteen years after the fact, the Internet has become the dominant communication resource. The protections provided by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act are not only antiquated and obsolete, but in contrary, they provide immunity to website operators who profit from publishing criminal defamation.
To compare the United States Internet defamation laws to the rest of the civilized world, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, New Zealand, and Australia all have Internet publishing laws making the 'website operater' liable for defamatory content regardless of their 'awareness' of the content. The European Union, in the least, makes the 'website operator' liable for removing defamatory content when notified.
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