How Broad a Shield? A Brief Overview of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act [February 21, 2018] [open pdf - 368KB]
"The Communications Decency Act of 1996 (CDA) added Section 230 to the Communications Act of 1934, generally protecting online service providers from legal liability stemming from content created by the users of their services, with some exceptions. (Though the provision is found in the Communications Act, many commonly refer to it as Section 230 of the CDA.) Some commentators have described Section 230 as one of the most important provisions protecting free expression on the Internet because 'interactive computer service' providers-- including entities like Facebook, Twitter, and Google that provide significant online platforms -are permitted to publish others' content without reviewing it for criminality or other potential legal issues. However, others argue that Section 230's liability protections are overbroad or unwarranted, and contend that Section 230's liability shield facilitates sex trafficking and other criminal behavior by permitting online service providers to display advertisements for illegal activity without fear of liability. In response to these concerns, some Members of Congress have introduced bills to limit the provision's scope."
CRS Legal Sidebar, LSB10082
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html