Author: Raymond

The Big Risk We Face As Internet Users

The Big Risk We Face As Internet Users

Op-Ed: The Supreme Court could upend the internet. How? By ruling that content creators are not obligated to protect their own speech online in the same way as they would in a traditional TV or radio broadcast.

By now, you’ve heard about the big Supreme Court ruling on Thursday that upholds a federal law prohibiting the “hurt, disparage, or humiliate” of certain types of speech on the internet:

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (“CDA”) of 1996 permits websites—but not their users—to claim free speech protections for their online content. Section 230 was created after WorldCom and Enron found that they could not afford to pay millions of dollars in lawsuits that the Federal Trade Commission would have otherwise had to pay. These two companies, who operated in the “global village,” were able to use Section 230 because they thought that it would protect them from having to pay for content that they did not think was particularly valuable.

Well, that’s a nice story. The truth is, though, that it’s not just a nice story: It’s not just a story for big media, either. It’s a story about the biggest risk we face as internet users: The risk that a few powerful corporate bullies might try to destroy the open-internet protections.

At issue: section 230 of the CDA.

Section 230 is the most important internet speech law in the country—the section that, most people acknowledge, is responsible for why a whole bunch of companies are thriving. It’s also the section that’s been in the headlines for the last few months. That’s because, back on February 11th of this year, the US Supreme Court issued a decision that, for the first time in our lifetimes, put a stake in the heart of the internet as a free-speech zone.

In short, the Internet Commerce Foundation, along with a bunch of other advocacy groups, filed an amicus brief against the law. The brief argued that the law was an over-reach, stifling online speech (especially, it alleged, protected speech like parody). The EFF also argued that the law had not been properly enforced, and that it could

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