In Zeran v. America Online, the Fourth Circuit upheld the broad grant of immunity for interactive service providers set out in §230 of the Communications Act, 47 U.S.C. §230. The court found that the new statute established a clear Congressional intent to exempt the emerging online industry from the threat of liability for information posted by others on their networks or transmitted over and through them. Obviously, this decision was very gratifying to the industry, and especially to those of us who had spent many months crafting and negotiating that legislation. It would be fair to say, however, that this hugely favorable result likely would never have come to pass without an earlier court decision involving the Stratton Oakmont brokerage firm, infamously memorialized in the movie “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
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