In yesterday’s post I described ongoing efforts to amend Section 230, the statute which protects Internet intermediaries from being penalized for the misdeeds of Internet users. A question being asked is, why is there interest in allowing states to regulate Internet content?
One answer is the website Backpage.com. Indeed, sponsors of the bill have been so explicit that the amendment is intended to target Backpage that many simply refer to the legislation as the “Backpage bill.” Backpage is a provider of Internet classifieds, whose sites include a “dating” section, and until January, an “adult services” section, in which a Senate investigation found human traffickers had solicited business.
Citing Section 230, Backpage has defeated some state and civil claims, however. These claims sought to hold the site responsible solely for the passive role it had in providing the location where these illicit transactions were published. New evidence, however — which has yet to be brought before any court — suggests the site had actually developed some ads. That would be another matter (more on that below), to which Section 230 does not apply.