Reforming CDA 230
There’s a serious debate on reforming Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. I am in the process of figuring out what I believe, and this is more a place to put resources and listen to people’s comments.
The EFF has written extensively on why it is so important and dismantling it will be catastrophic for the Internet. Danielle Citron disagrees. (There’s also this law journal article by Citron and Ben Wittes.) Sarah Jeong’s op-ed. Another op-ed. Another paper.
Reading all of this, I am reminded of this decade-old quote by Dan Geer. He’s addressing Internet service providers:
Hello, Uncle Sam here.
You can charge whatever you like based on the contents of what you are carrying, but you are responsible for that content if it is illegal; inspecting brings with it a responsibility for what you learn.
You can enjoy common carrier protections at all times, but you can neither inspect nor act on the contents of what you are carrying and can only charge for carriage itself. Bits are bits.
Choose wisely. No refunds or exchanges at this window.
We can revise this choice for the social-media age:
Hi Facebook/Twitter/YouTube/everyone else:
You can build a communications based on inspecting user content and presenting it as you want, but that business model also conveys responsibility for that content.
You can be a communications service and enjoy the protections of CDA 230, in which case you cannot inspect or control the content you deliver.
Facebook would be an example of the former. WhatsApp would be an example of the latter.
I am honestly undecided about all of this. I want CDA230 to protect things like the commenting section of this blog. But I don’t think it should protect dating apps when they are used as a conduit for abuse. And I really don’t want society to pay the cost for all the externalities inherent in Facebook’s business model.
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