Twitter Trouble: The Communications Decency Act in Action

Julie Hsia, Twitter Trouble: The Communications Decency Act in Action, 2017 Colum. Bus. L. Rev. 399 (2017).

The Communications Decency Act affords Internet service providers (ISPs) immunity from liability for defamation, among other crimes, to allow self-policing of websites. However, due to this immunity, websites have no incentive to remove defamatory content, which undermines the entire purpose of the Communications Decency Act. To improve this statute and promote the removal of defamatory content, the United States should follow in the footsteps of countries with more effective Internet laws. This Note presupposes that a higher percentage of Twitter removal requests in which Twitter has withheld some content indicates a higher efficacy of the Internet laws in those countries. The data published by Twitter shows that France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, and Russia are the top five countries in terms of percentage of removal requests with which Twitter has complied. Four of these five countries have laws similar to the notice and takedown provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which requires an Internet service provider to quickly remove content once made aware of its unlawful nature. Therefore, a notice and takedown provision with a critical opinion safe harbor should be added to the Communications Decency Act.

© Julie Hsia

Forthcoming 2017 Colum. Bus. L. Rev. 399 (2017).

Author Information

J.D. Candidate 2017, Columbia Law School.