A Pennsylvania judge has dismissed a lawsuit against the controversial website DontDateHimGirl.com, ruling that he did not have jurisdiction over the Florida-based site.
But the jurisdiction question was not the only problem with this suit. Dontdatehimgirl is a forum created for women to share information about men, and the plaintiff in this case claims that participants posted defamatory statements about him. EFF filed an amicus brief in support of Dontdatehimgirl in December, arguing that the site cannot be held liable for comments written by others under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Section 230 specifically protects hosts of interactive computer services from liability, and is key to fostering free discourse online. Without Section 230, no one would risk creating a website where others could post opinions.
It's important to note that the claims against the people who posted the messages in the first place still stand. If any defamation occurred, it's the speakers who should bear the responsibility, not the soapbox.
The plaintiff in this case has not decided if he will refile the Dontdatehim girl suit in Florida. However, if he does, he will have to take on Section 230 and the strong protections it provides to Internet hosts of vigorous online debate.