In an ongoing series on the changing legal landscape for defamation, Law.com contributor Kevin Allen explores the issue in a three part series titled “Digital Defamation” that addresses current developments in the law of defamation, particularly those involving allegations of defamation in the electronic media. Look next month for the last article in the series.
When Congress passed the Communications Decency Act (CDA), 47 U.S.C. � 230, in 1996, it made a tradeoff. Congress had the choice whether to permit Internet service providers (ISPs) to be held liable for damages caused by content posted by third parties, or whether to free ISPs from the threat of such liability and thereby foster the free flow of information over the Internet. At that time, with the Internet still in a relatively nascent stage of development, Congress came down in favor of immunizing ISPs from liability, and did so — intentionally or unintentionally — in sweeping fashion.
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