Congress enacted the CDA as part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, due to concerns over pornography on the Internet. Section 230 was added to support and encourage the proliferation of information on the Internet. However, this section of the CDA has since developed into one of the most influential cyberspace laws protecting websites and ISPs from liability. State and federal courts have interpreted section 230 protection expansively, conferring broad immunity upon websites, including immunity for violations of the Fair Housing Act ("FHA"). This is especially significant because "the Internet has become 'a unique and wholly new medium of worldwide human communication' in the two decades since the CDA's enactment.
This note contends that Congress needs to implement equivalent sanctions for websites and traditional media, and is organized as follows: Part II of this note will explain common law defamation and the section 230's departure from it. Part III will explore the history of the CDA and how it has evolved into an all-encompassing liability shield for online entities. Part IV will describe the current problems created by the court's application of the CDA and the unfair advantage websites have over traditional print media. Part V will analyze previous proposed solutions, and Section six recommends a new approach to this problem.
The Overexpansion of the Communications Decency Act Safe Harbor,
35 Hastings Comm. & Ent.L.J. 455
Available at: https://repository.uchastings.edu/hastings_comm_ent_law_journal/vol35/iss3/4