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At a time when the internet’s potential was almost entirely unknown, members of Congress set forth to protect the diverse discourse, cultural development, and intellectual progression that the internet promised to offer. Congress boasted that the internet and other interactive computer services “flourished” under the realm of minimal governmental regulation. Therefore, in an effort to protect the continued development of the internet and other interactive computer services—and with them, the furtherance of intellectual progression—Congress enacted 47 U.S.C. §230 (“Section 230”). Section 230 was, in part, a response to the interpretation of the Communications Decency Act (“CDA”), which was proposed to limit the growing availability of internet pornography and was feared to have a chilling effect on the internet’s promotion of free expression. Section 230 was also a response to the case of Stratton Oakmont v. Prodigy Servs. Co. which held that, since Prodigy, the interactive computer service was able to moderate the content posted by third parties, it was liable for that content. Congress was mindful of the case’s implication and feared that CDA would impose greater burdens on interactive computer services which would in turn limit speech posted on these sites. An amendment to the CDA, Section 230, was then born to grant broad immunity to interactive computer services for third-party content posted on their sites.

This post was originally published on the Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal website on April 03, 2023. The original post can be accessed via the Archived Link button above.

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