Weakening The CDA Would Have Unintended Consequences

By Charles Harris II (August 18, 2017, 3:04 PM EDT) -- The majority view among courts is that section 230 of the Federal Communications Decency Act (the "CDA")[1] broadly immunizes websites from liability for user content. Legislators in both the U.S. House and Senate recently introduced bipartisan bills that would amend the CDA and federal criminal code to expressly carve out websites that facilitate sex trafficking from section 230's immunity. While this legislative effort is no doubt commendable, the vague amendatory language in the proposed legislation could open the door for the plaintiffs bar to file vexatious lawsuits against even law-abiding websites, and lead to uneven enforcement of sex trafficking crimes by state authorities. Websites that allow users to post content should be aware of this proposed legislation as it works its way through Congress....

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