Section 230: Key Legal Cases
In the decade and a half since Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) was signed into law, it has been challenged and upheld on numerous occasions. This is a small sample of the key cases that have litigated Section 230 over the years.
For a more complete discussion of Section 230 and the cases interpreting it please see the Internet Law Treatise.
A user of Yahoo's online dating services sued after he discovered that the company generated false profiles and sent users now-defunct profiles in order to entice them to re-subscribe.
When Yahoo! failed to take down a false profile of the plaintiff even after an employee assured her that it would be removed, the plaintiff sued Yahoo! claiming that it had acted negligently and broken a binding promise to remove the material.
The defendant, who ran an online discussion group around women's health, posted some third-party content that attacked the plaintiffs, two doctors critical of alternative medicines.
In an important decision, the distributor of an electronic newsletter was a publisher for the purposes of CDA § 230 when he forwarded a third party's email to the newsletter list serve with only minor edits.
America Online was sued for providing wrong information about Ben Ezra, Weinstein, & Co.'s stock.
Victims sued both Drudge for publishing defamatory content and AOL for hosting his website.
The dating website Metrosplash.com, Inc., was sued for a third-party's objectionable response to an online questionnaire.
Craigslist, the online classified advertising site, was sued for hosting users' discriminatory housing postings.
The Sheriff of Cook County sued Craigslist arguing that the site's "adult" or "erotic" services section facilitated prostitution and created a public nuisance.
After improper videos of college athletes were sold online, the athletes decided to sue the site's web host, GTE.
Social networking site MySpace was sued for negligence for failing to implement safety measures that would prevent minors from lying about their age.
The adult dating site SexSearch.com was sued for inadequately monitoring, screening, and deleting content after hosting the profile of a minor.
Roommates.com required users to choose among a set of answers to questions about preferences that allegedly violated anti-discrimination laws.
eBay hosted auctions of sports memorabilia with forged signatures and forged certificates of authenticity.
Goddard sued Google for displaying third-party ads that led to allegedly fraudulent mobile subscription services.
Plaintiff sued America Online (AOL) after two other AOL users sent him defamatory messages and a virus-like "punter" program through an AOL chat room
Gucci sued Mindspring for hosting a website that infringed on the designer's trademark.
A man marketed child pornography videos over AOL chat rooms, so the plaintiffs sued AOL.
Google suggested "styrotrim," a trademark of Plaintiff, as a keyword to people bidding via adwords.
A minor who was trafficked in part via advertisements posted on Backpage.com sued Village Voice, the owner of Backpage, alleging that the company aided and abetted her trafficking.
Consumeraffairs.com was sued for providing a forum for customers, as well as soliciting and editing allegedly false negative reviews of businesses.
An author sued Google because the company archived defamatory messages posted about him on a third-party website and displayed "an authorized biography of Plaintiff" when his name was searched.
The plaintiff in this case sued two web service providers for hosting third-party sites that displayed images stolen from the plaintiff.
When a third party posted defamatory statements about Universal Communications Systems on an online Lycos message board, the company sued Lycos arguing in part that Lycos' registration process and link structure had prompted the statements.
Zeran sued American Online for hosting false advertisements placed on their bulletin boards.