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The phrase “Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act” doesn’t exactly still beating hearts — and yet that provision may be responsible for the internet as we know it. So argues Jeff Kosseff in his new book, “The Twenty-Six Words That Created the Internet.” By stating that “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,” Section 230 has allowed the proliferation of platforms like Facebook and YouTube that rely on user-generated content.
But recently many politicians on both the right and left have started questioning Section 230’s merits. On this episode, we talked with Jeff about what role Section 230 has played in the development of the modern internet, and what could happen if the government significantly alters it. We also discussed alleged social media censorship and bias in Silicon Valley, antitrust concerns about Big Tech, and much more.
Jeff Kosseff is an assistant professor of cybersecurity law in the US Naval Academy’s Cyber Science Department. His latest book, “The Twenty-Six Words That Created the Internet” (Cornell University Press, 2019), is a timely history of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Before becoming a lawyer, he was a technology and political journalist for The Oregonian, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting, and recipient of the George Polk Award for national reporting. His articles have appeared in Iowa Law Review, Wake Forest Law Review, Computer Law & Security Review, and other law reviews and technology law journals.
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