Section 230 and Criminal Law; DOJ 230 Workshop Review, Part II

“In particular, half the states in the country still criminalize defamation, so opening the door to the enforcement of state criminal law means making websites liable for defamation committed by users — the thing Section 230 was most specifically intended to prevent. Yes, criminal cases involve a higher burden of proof but also stiffer penalties. And if websites face criminal penalties whenever users can complain about other users’ speech, the chilling effects would be enormous. Any potentially sensitive or objectionable speech would be censored before anyone even complains. Politicians would be in a particularly privileged position, able to silence their critics simply by threatening to have criminal charges filed. Think Trump on steroids — for every politician in America (and anyone else who could get prosecutors to file a criminal complaint, or at least threaten to do so).”