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Publication Citation

61 Federal Communications Law Journal 765 (2009)


In 2006, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas extended civil liability to Yahoo! under § 230 of the Communications Decency Act so that it could not be sued for knowingly profiting from a Web site where members exchanged sexually explicit pictures of minors. The court found that the reasoning of the seminal § 230 case, Zeran v. AOL, was analogous and that policy considerations mandated its holding.

This Note argues that a multifaceted approach is needed to prevent future courts from following that decision, including an amendment to § 230 that would impose civil liability upon ISPs that knowingly allow the sexual exploitation of children on their Web sites. In the meantime, however, future courts should distinguish Zeran and refuse to apply its defamation rationale to child sexual exploitation claims. Future courts should also refuse to extend the immunity to child sexual exploitation claims because doing so does not further the congressional intent behind § 230. Courts should recognize an exception to immunity under § 230(e)(1) in order to protect minors on the Internet.