Thanks again for the great responses in comments. I’ve learned a lot about how people think about the Internet of 2010 and whether it fits the “Wild West 2.0” model.
On Monday, we discussed why the Internet of 2010 resembles the closing of the Wild West frontier. On Tuesday, we talked about whether CDA 230 is appropriate for the Internet of 2010. Yesterday, we talked about why CDA 230 is a subsidy to online libel.
Today, I want to present some ideas to preserve the best parts of anonymous free expression, while fixing the subsidy that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act gives to libelous speech. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Online Anonymous Speech is a Good Thing
Anonymous online speech can be powerful and beneficial. You are free to leave anonymous or pseudonymous comments on this site, which encourages free discussion of political issues. Protesters in Iran can spread ideas, corporate whistleblowers can speak out, and the government is deterred from at least one form of intrusion into personal life. On a personal level, you can explore your identity, research controversial causes or issues, or just vent frustration. All of these are good things and worthy of preservation.
But in the offline world there is also accountability for anonymous speech that is libelous or invasive of privacy. By taking control of the media away from The New York Times and putting it in the hands of individual bloggers, the Internet have empowered free expression and opinion, but also empowered hundreds of millions of people to anonymously libel each other and invade each others’ privacy.
Updating the Assumptions Underlying CDA 230
CDA 230 was based on a number of guesses about how the Internet of the then-future would work. We’ve had almost fifteen years to [...]