• SCARS-PROPOSED-MODIFICATIONS-TO-THE-COMMUNICATIONS-DECENCY-ACT

SCARS™ Proposed Changes To The Communications Decency Act

SCARS™ Proposed Changes To The Communications Decency Act

The Society of Citizens Against Romance Scams, in an effort to reduce online fraud and the uncontrolled creation of false or fake identities online request that the United States Congress amend the Communications Decency Act of 1996 to address unforeseen consequences of the original act.

Introduction

What few consumers understand is that the same law that allows a degree of freedom of speech online also provides for and allows for open violation of law and that the provider of the service or website has no liability unless they agree that a specific element of content is objectionable or in violation of the law.

We need to change this so that immunity disappears and incentivizes publishers to act responsibly

Original Section 230 Of The Act As Currently Written:

47 U.S. Code § 230 – Protection for private blocking and screening of offensive material

(a) FindingsThe Congress finds the following:

(1) The rapidly developing array of Internet and other interactive computer services available to individual Americans represent an extraordinary advance in the availability of educational and informational resources to our citizens.

(2) These services offer users a great degree of control over the information that they receive, as well as the potential for even greater control in the future as technology develops.

(3) The Internet and other interactive computer services offer a forum for a true diversity of political discourse, unique opportunities for cultural development, and myriad avenues for intellectual activity.

(4) The Internet and other interactive computer services have flourished, to the benefit of all Americans, with a minimum of government regulation.

(5) Increasingly Americans are relying on interactive media for a variety of political, educational, cultural, and entertainment services.

(b) PolicyIt is the policy of the United States—

(1) to promote the continued development of the Internet and other interactive computer services and other interactive media;

(2) to preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that presently exists for the Internet and other interactive computer services, unfettered by Federal or State regulation;

(3) to encourage the development of technologies which maximize user control over what information is received by individuals, families, and schools who use the Internet and other interactive computer services;

(4) to remove disincentives for the development and utilization of blocking and filtering technologies that empower parents to restrict their children’s access to objectionable or inappropriate online material; and

(5) to ensure vigorous enforcement of Federal criminal laws to deter and punish trafficking in obscenity, stalking, and harassment by means of computer.

(c) Protection for “Good Samaritan” blocking and screening of offensive material

(1) Treatment of publisher or speaker

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.

(2) Civil liability – No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of—

(A) any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected; or

(B) any action taken to enable or make available to information content providers or others the technical means to restrict access to material described in paragraph (1).

(d) Obligations of interactive computer service

A provider of interactive computer service shall, at the time of entering an agreement with a customer for the provision of interactive computer service and in a manner deemed appropriate by the provider, notify such customer that parental control protections (such as computer hardware, software, or filtering services) are commercially available that may assist the customer in limiting access to material that is harmful to minors. Such notice shall identify, or provide the customer with access to information identifying, current providers of such protections.

(e) Effect on other laws

(1) No effect on criminal law

Nothing in this section shall be construed to impair the enforcement of section 223 or 231 of this title, chapter 71 (relating to obscenity) or 110 (relating to sexual exploitation of children) of title 18, or any other Federal criminal statute.

(2) No effect on intellectual property law

Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit or expand any law pertaining to intellectual property.

(3) State law

Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent any State from enforcing any State law that is consistent with this section. No cause of action may be brought and no liability may be imposed under any State or local law that is inconsistent with this section.

(4) No effect on communications privacy law

Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit the application of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 or any of the amendments made by such Act, or any similar State law.

(f) DefinitionsAs used in this section:

(1) Internet

The term “Internet” means the international computer network of both Federal and non-Federal interoperable packet switched data networks.

(2) Interactive computer service

The term “interactive computer service” means any information service, system, or access software provider that provides or enables computer access by multiple users to a computer server, including specifically a service or system that provides access to the Internet and such systems operated or services offered by libraries or educational institutions.

(3) Information content provider

The term “information content provider” means any person or entity that is responsible, in whole or in part, for the creation or development of information provided through the Internet or any other interactive computer service.

(4) Access software providerThe term “access software provider” means a provider of software (including client or server software), or enabling tools that do any one or more of the following:

(A) filter, screen, allow, or disallow content;

(B) pick, choose, analyze, or digest content; or

(C) transmit, receive, display, forward, cache, search, subset, organize, reorganize, or translate content.

The primary issue is to address the issue of immunity so that publishers (such as social media companies) are responsible for policing their environments. That the complete failure to proactively apply best practices will result in civil liability. That simple claiming immunity will no longer be sufficient.

Modifications To Section 230 Of The Act As Proposed By SCARS

Our principal goal in this revision is to remove “blanket” liability protection of the publishers of online services such as social media and search indexes. Our additions to the law are identified in [BLUE] – Updated October 11, 2018

47 U.S. Code § 230 – Protection for private blocking and screening of offensive material

(a) Findings – The Congress finds the following:

(1) The rapidly developing array of Internet and other interactive computer services available to individual Americans represent an extraordinary advance in the availability of educational and informational resources to our citizens.

(2) These services offer users a great degree of control over the information that they receive, as well as the potential for even greater control in the future as technology develops.

(3) The Internet and other interactive computer services offer a forum for a true diversity of political discourse, unique opportunities for cultural development, and myriad avenues for intellectual activity.

(4) The Internet and other interactive computer services have flourished, to the benefit of all Americans, with a minimum of government regulation.

(5) Increasingly Americans are relying on interactive media for a variety of political, educational, cultural, and entertainment services.

(b) Policy – It is the policy of the United States—

(1) to promote the continued development of the Internet and other interactive computer services and other interactive media;

(2) to preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that presently exists for the Internet and other interactive computer services, unfettered by Federal or State regulation;

(3) to encourage the development of technologies which maximize user control over what information is received by individuals, families, and schools who use the Internet and other interactive computer services;

(4) to remove disincentives for the development and utilization of blocking and filtering technologies that empower parents to restrict their children’s access to objectionable or inappropriate online material; and

(5) to ensure vigorous enforcement of Federal criminal laws to deter and punish trafficking in obscenity, stalking, harassment, deception, and all other recognized crimes or other offenses under Federal law by means of computer.

(c) Protection for “Good Samaritan” blocking and screening of offensive material

(1)Treatment of publisher or speaker

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, unless and until they have been notified of a violation of Federal laws, at which point they shall remove such identified content from the Internet and other interactive computer services or other interactive media under their immediate control, and notify the proper Federal authority; or to retain such identified content with the assumption of liability.

(2) Civil liability – No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of—

(A) any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, otherwise objectionable, or in violation of Federal law, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected; or

(B) any action taken to enable or make available to information content providers or others the technical means to restrict access to material described in paragraph (A).

(C) any action taken to restrict or remove customers, subscrivers, or users either public or private where the creation of an account, a subscription, or other log-in credentials are required for access to the content or material provided on the Internet or other interactive computer services or other interactive media under their immediate control that cannot be verified as a legal person.

(3) Civil liability – The provider or user of an interactive computer service may be held liable on account of—

(A) the failure to take appropriate measures to voluntarily and in good faith restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user has had reported to the the provider or user to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, otherwise objectionable, or in violation of Federal law, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected; or

(B) takes no action to protect the public or private audience from such content or activities on the Internet or other interactive computer services or other interactive media under their immediate control or shall continue to enable or make available to information content providers or others where the provider or user has the technical means to restrict access to material described in paragraph (A).

(C) fails to engage in and routinely perform methods and practices that review the Internet or other interactive computer services or other interactive media under their immediate control for objectionable or unlawful material described in paragraph (A). Such methods and practices shall include review of such matterial by manual or automated means.

(D) fails to enact a process or method to respond to reports or complaints provided by the customers or public or private users of the Internet or other interactive computer services or other interactive media under their immediate control of material described in paragraph (A). Such process must communicate and respond to the customer or public user the status of any review or investigation of the matterial and final decisions made with its regard. In addition, the publisher or user must publicly publish a report on the Internet or other interactive computer services or other interactive media under their immediate control of material described in paragraph (A) in summary that it has acted upon or responded to on a calendar annual basis or more frequently which is publicly accessible.

(E) fails to establish processes or methods to verify the identity of all legal persons that are its customers, subscrivers, or users either public or private where the creation of an account, a subscription, or other log-in credentials are required for access to the content or material provided on the Internet or other interactive computer services or other interactive media under their immediate control.

(F) such liability shall not apply to providers or users of Internet or other interactive computer services or other interactive media that have fewer than 1,000 monthly subscribers, users, or public or private interactions.

(d) Obligations of interactive computer service

A provider of interactive computer service shall, at the time of entering an agreement with a customer for the provision of interactive computer service and in a manner deemed appropriate by the provider, notify such customer that parental control protections (such as computer hardware, software, or filtering services) are commercially available that may assist the customer in limiting access to material that is harmful to minors. Such notice shall identify, or provide the customer with access to information identifying, current providers of such protections.

(e) Effect on other laws

(1) No effect on criminal law

Nothing in this section shall be construed to impair the enforcement of section 223 or 231 of this title, chapter 71 (relating to obscenity) or 110 (relating to sexual exploitation of children) of title 18, or any other Federal criminal statute.

(2) No effect on intellectual property law

Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit or expand any law pertaining to intellectual property.

(3) State law

Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent any State from enforcing any State law that is consistent with this section. No cause of action may be brought and no liability may be imposed under any State or local law that is inconsistent with this section.

(4) No effect on communications privacy law

Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit the application of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 or any of the amendments made by such Act, or any similar State law.

(f) DefinitionsAs used in this section:

(1) Internet

The term “Internet” means the international computer network of both Federal and non-Federal interoperable packet switched data networks.

(2) Interactive computer service

The term “interactive computer service” means any information service, system, or access software provider that provides or enables computer access by multiple users to a computer server, including specifically a service or system that provides access to the Internet and such systems operated or services offered by libraries or educational institutions.

(3) Information content provider

The term “information content provider” means any person or entity that is responsible, in whole or in part, for the creation or development, or containment of information provided through the Internet or any other interactive computer service.

(4) Access software provider – The term “access software provider” means a provider of software (including client or server software), or enabling tools that do any one or more of the following:

(A) filter, screen, allow, or disallow content;

(B) pick, choose, analyze, or digest content; or

(C) transmit, receive, display, forward, cache, search, subset, organize, reorganize, or translate content.

 

Formatted for clarity, modifications in blue - black text is unmodified

It is the goal of these revisions to this law that Publishers and services providers shall enact new best practices with greater transparency. However, unlike the current law which makes all publishers immune from liability, the amendment would strip away such immunity and make them liable for their failures to protect against the objectionable and unlawful material. 

THE GOAL IS NOT TO EXPLICITLY DEFINE EVERY SINGLE TASK THEY MUST PERFORM BUT PROVIDE A FRAMEWORK THAT WILL ALLOW THE COURTS TO INTERPRET THE LAW AND PROVIDE “CASE LAW” AND PRECEDENT. ADDITIONALLY, JUST LIKE WITH HIPPA AND OTHER REGULATION SETS, INDUSTRY STANDARDS AND BEST PRACTICES WILL BE DEVELOPED TO HELP GUIDE PUBLISHERS IN THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE REVISED LAW.

Please Share Your Thoughts Or Suggested Edits With Us In The Comments Below

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