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EFF Backs DontDateHimGirl.com in Defamation Case

PRESS RELEASE
December 22, 2006

Controversial Website Shielded by Federal Law Protecting Internet Free Speech

Pittsburgh - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) urged a Pennsylvania court today to dismiss defamation claims against the controversial website DontDateHimGirl.com, arguing that federal law shields the website from liability to protect the free flow of information online.

DontDateHimGirl.com was created by Tasha Joseph as a forum for women to share information about men. One of the men discussed on the site, Todd J. Hollis, claims that some participants posted defamatory statements about him on the website. In its amicus brief filed today, EFF argues that DontDateHimGirl.com's owner 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 to encourage free discourse and robust debate.

"The Internet allows people all over the world to share information and diverse opinions. Without Section 230, no one would risk creating a website where others express ideas," said EFF Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann. "This doesn't mean that people like Hollis can't pursue defamation cases. They can. But they should sue the person who made the statement in the first place, not the person who created the forum where it was made."

Nearly every court that has considered Section 230 has recognized the intent of the law and shielded website operators from liability. EFF has provided amicus support in a number of lawsuits, including one that recently held that Craigslist was not responsible for the content of posts made by the public.

"Section 230 is key to fostering vital debate and discussion across the Internet. Craigslist and other online communities are thriving because of its protection," said EFF Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl.

The amicus brief was also signed by the Center for Democracy and Technology and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Pennsylvania.

For the full amicus brief:
http://www.eff.org/legal/cases/ddhg/joseph_amicus_final.pdf

Contacts:

Marcia Hofmann
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
marcia@eff.org

Kurt Opsahl
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
kurt@eff.org

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