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date: 02 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter provides an overview of online intermediaries’ immunities in the United States. In particular, it reviews 47 USC § 230, which says that websites and other online services are not liable for third party content. The chapter focuses on how this legal policy is simple and elegant, but is hardly intuitive, and it has had extraordinary consequences for the internet and our society. After reviewing pre-section 230 law and case law, the chapter discusses the moderator’s dilemma and the introduction of section 230 in the United States. It then describes section 230’s protections for the defendant, statutory exclusions, and implications for innovation, highlighting the positive externalities of section 230 and critical views of section 230’s arrangement. Finally, the chapter discusses how section 230 compares to some foreign counterparts.

Keywords: United States, section 230, online intermediaries, immunities, freedom of speech

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