Andrew Cuomo Grandstanding Again: Threatens To Sue Social Networking Site Over Actions Of Its Users

from the fighting-for-the-public(ity) dept

Now that NY Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has officially announced his long-expected campaign to be governor of New York (following in his father's footsteps), it looks like he's back to grandstanding by making very public, if very misleading, threats against tech companies. You may recall that this is Andrew Cuomo's basic blueprint for censoring the internet. It starts with him releasing an "open letter" to various online services, claiming that they have child porn on their service, and if they don't clean it up, he's going to sue. Of course, he's never actually sued, because he probably wouldn't win. Child porn is very much illegal and a very, very bad thing, but the responsible parties are those who are actually creating, uploading and sharing the content -- not the larger service providers. A Section 230 defense almost certainly protects most of these sites. But... of course, when you have a high profile politician threatening to sue you for child porn, you cave. It's simply not worth the legal battle. Cuomo would gleefully take a legal battle where he gets headlines about how he's "fighting to protect people from child porn" by taking on big evil tech companies -- even if he would lose eventually. He just needs the headlines to get elected.

And so, here he goes again, threatening the social networking site Tagged.com with a lawsuit for not cleaning up child porn on the site. Apparently, Cuomo's office had people set up accounts and go searching for stuff, which they reported to Tagged, but which the company failed to take down in a timely manner. So he threatens Tagged. But what isn't explained is why he's not doing anything to go after those actually responsible. Rather than blame Tagged, why not work with them to help find out who's responsible for the content and bring them to justice?

Reading between the lines, it looks like Cuomo's way of trying to get around Section 230 with a pretty sneaky tactic. He wants to charge Tagged with false and deceptive advertising. How's that work? Well, Tagged has said that it has safety measures in place to deal with inappropriate content. So Cuomo's office is claiming that because those measures don't work very well, that the company is falsely advertising its safety measures. As a way to get around Section 230 safe harbors, it's pretty sneaky.

The really disturbing part of all of this is that, in his blatant move to grab headlines for "fighting child porn," he's actually making the problem a lot worse. When this stuff is happening on mainstream sites, it's easier to track down and capture those actually responsible. Driving it further underground doesn't stop the activity -- it just makes it that much more difficult for law enforcement to do its actual job. But Cuomo doesn't really care about that. He just wants to get elected. If it makes the child porn problem worse, no big deal, apparently.
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: andrew cuomo, false advertising, grandstanding, section 230
Companies: tagged.com


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jun 2010 @ 9:27pm

    i suspect there is no 230 defense for child porn, especially if it is prevelant and the owners are made aware and fail to take action. it isnt any different from allowing someone to sell child porn from the lobby of a building you own. there is a point where you are no long innocent nor ignorant.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.