Hooman Karamian a/k/a Nik Richie who runs the “Trash Your Former Best Friend“ website, TheDirty.com has long been the “Teflon Don” against accusations of defamation and other nastiness posted on his web site. His bullet proof armor has been Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act which provides passive web site operators liability immunity for content posted by others including anonymous comments. In other words, a blogger or forum host isn’t responsible for defamatory comments by anonymous commenter.
It appears that Senator Joe Lieberman is about to strip that armor and render the emperor of vile posts and defamatory comment as well us all other web across the internet naked to potential liability for passive postings on their sites.
Senator Lieberman is proposing an amendment to section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The bill would amend Section 230 Of The Communication Decency Ac to strip immunity from web sites for hosting anonymous comments.
Without CDA 230 immunity from these comments, sites like theDirty and practically all consumer rating sites such as Yelp and The Rip Off Report would be sitting ducks for litigation would be forced to shut down. Many may think this is a great idea to shut down sites like theDirty but the hit to Free Speech will be much further reaching affecting all of us.
According to the Free Speech website “McIntyre v. Ohio”:
This amendment to that law would change that, by stripping out the immunity and leaving web hosts potentially liable. A draft of the bill, apparently to be introduced tomorrow, is here: Section 230 Amendment The act as it stands now reads:
No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.
The amendment reads (underline is an addition and strike through is a deletion in legislatureland):
NoA provider or user of an interactive computer service shallmay be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content providerThe amendment reads (underline
One may look at this and think, “good riddance to sites like the Dirty” but free speech for one is free speech for all, even commentary we find offense. If this amendment passes, we are all stripped naked in our ability to engage in the honest and blunt discourse that anonymous commenting protects. It puts an unbearable burden on not only the sites we might not like but the sites that encourage legitimate discourse. All consumer rating sites would disappear practically overnight.
Shame on emperor Lieberman.