Monday, August 31, 2015

Laws that immunized Silicon Valley tech

Two internet laws of the 1990s, Communications Decency Act and Digital Millennium Copyright Act, were passed over the overwhelming objections from Silicon Valley and cyber rights activists.

And yet these laws have been overwhelmingly favorable to Si Valley companies.

David Post writes:
It has caused me to reflect a bit (again) on a rather remarkable provision of the U.S. Code, Secction 230 of the Communications Decency Act (which was part of the massive Telecommunications Reform Act of 1996):
“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.”
No other sentence in the U.S. Code, I would assert, has been responsible for the creation of more value than that one; if you have other candidates for that honor you think more worthy, please do share them.

It immunizes all online “content intermediaries” from a vast range of legal liability that could have been imposed upon them, under pre-1996 law, for unlawful or tortious content provided by their users — liability for libel, defamation, infliction of emotional distress, commercial disparagement, distribution of sexually explicit material, threats or any other causes of action that impose liability on those who, though not the source themselves of the offending content, act to “publish” or “distribute” it. ...

Yet it is impossible to imagine what the Internet ecosystem would look like today without it. Virtually every successful online venture that emerged after 1996 — including all the usual suspects, viz. Google, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Reddit, Craigslist, YouTube, Instagram, eBay, Amazon — relies in large part (or entirely) on content provided by their users, who number in the hundreds of millions, or billions.
And the DMCA is what allows Google to cache web pages and post pirate videos contrary to copyrights, as long as it follows take-down procedures after a complaint.

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