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Intermediary Liability

Issues: Intermediary Liability

Access to customer information from Internet infrastructure providers should follow due process of law.

Internet infrastructure providers enable people to create and consume content, but it’s often agreed that these third parties should not be held responsible for how people use these services. As an analogy, a pen company isn’t responsible for what people write or draw with their pens.

Policies attempting to make online intermediaries responsible for all content on their networks are misguided, undermining the Internet’s openness and environment. Imparting undue legal risk and regulatory burden on infrastructure providers impedes their ability to do business and places them in the unenviable position of policing content. A qualified entity such as a court would be best suited to determine what violates a particular law.

Section 230 of the U.S. Communications Decency Act establishes a framework where those responsible for content are liable for their actions, rather than imposing liability on third-party providers. In international trade agreements, we advocate for the sort of intermediary liability protection principles outlined in Section 230.

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