New Law Could Hold Service Providers Liable For Investor Misrepresentations
from the safe-harbors? dept
In general, we’re big fans of the safe harbors found in the DMCA and the CDA, as they do what common sense should do instead: make sure that a third party is not held liable for actions of its users. Unfortunately, common sense isn’t always so common, and some people have trouble understanding this concept. In fact, it appears that a new bill may go in the other direction when it comes to investor information. A proposed bill that is supposedly designed to allow the SEC to better protect investors from bad info would potentially hold service providers liable for information posted by users if the service provider has “actual knowledge that the material contains a misrepresentation [or] in the absence of actual knowledge, is aware of facts or circumstances from which it is apparent that the material contains a misrepresentation [and] upon obtaining such knowledge or awareness, fails to act expeditiously to remove, or disable access to, the material.”
That would go against the basic Section 230 CDA safe harbors, so I’m not quite sure how you reconcile the two. In general, you can understand why it seems to make sense that service provider needs to remove such info, but it opens up all sorts of questions. Say someone in our comments posts some sort of misrepresentation. Are we now going to need to police that? If someone else tells us it’s a misrepresentation, will we now need to delete the comment? Are we expected to investigate whether or not some random comment on the site is a misrepresentation? Policing such things on forums all over the place would place an incredible burden on any website that allows user generated content. Why not keep the Section 230 safe harbors and focus on holding the actual parties (those who posted it) responsible, rather than the tools they use?