Question: Can an ISP or the host
of the message board or chat room be held liable for defamatory of libelous statements made by others on the message board?
Under 47 U.S.C. sec. 230(c)(1): "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." This provision has been uniformly interpreted by the Courts to provide complete protection
against defamation or libel claims made against an ISP, message board or chat room where the statements are made by third
parties. Note that this immunity does not extend to claims made under intellectual property laws.
Question: Must an ISP or message board host delete postings
that someone tells him/her are defamatory? Can the ISP or message board delete postings in response to a request from a third
Answer: 47 U.S.C. sec. 230 gives most ISPs and message board
hosts the discretion to keep postings or delete them, whichever they prefer, in response to claims by others that a posting
is defamatory or libelous. Most ISPs and message board hosts also post terms of service that give them the right to delete
or not delete messages as they see fit and such terms have generally been held to be enforceable under law.
Question: Can my ISP or the host of a message board be held
liable for defamatory statements I make on the grounds that they are a "publisher" or "republisher" of the information?
Federal law provides: "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." This has been interpreted to protect hosts of discussions between other people against defamation and libel
claims as a "republisher" of the information. Note that this protection does not extend to claims under intellectual property
Question: How do CyberSLAPP plaintiffs discover the identity
of anonymous Internet critics?
CyberSLAPP plaintiffs usually get the personal information you gave an ISP or online message board when you signed
up (name, address, telephone number, etc.). Some web sites that host discussion boards might only have your e-mail address,
in which case a second subpoeana to the ISP that hosts that address will reveal your identity. In many cases, even more detailed
information about your use of the Internet can be obtained; it's important to realize that when you go online, you leave electronic
footprints almost everywhere you go. (With advanced knowledge of the Internet, however, there are ways to cover your tracks.)