It has been a little more than a month since the Department of Justice (DOJ) made their formal recommendations to lawmakers on how to limit the scope of the broad immunity given to interactive computer service companies, i.e., social media and tech companies, under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. Originally, the drafters of the Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies Act of 2020 (EARN IT Act) led by Sen. Lindsey Graham intended to comply with the DOJ’s request by structuring the bill as a series of amendments to Section 230 that would turn the legal shield into an incentive-based protection. Essentially mirroring category one of the DOJ report, the original incentive system of the EARN IT Act would have meant that an interactive computer service company would only receive Section 230 immunity from civil liability for illicit content posted by a site’s users if the company took affirmative steps to ensure that its site was not facilitating the dissemination of child sex abuse materials.
What do videogames, cigarettes and slot machines have in common? They’re all addicting, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Since addiction and legal liability can sometimes go hand in hand, game designers (and app developers) would do well to pay attention whenever a new habit or hobby looks like it might be deemed harmful.