Whither Section 230? – Law and disruptive technology

John L. Akula*

Edited by Tobin South and Grant A. Knappe

Article | Aug. 29 2022

*Email: jakula@mit.edu

DOI: 10.38105/spr.8rk3ouv6xz


  • There is growing concern that internet-based platforms have become a haven for conduct that U.S. law inhibits in other communication media, due in large part to broad immunity provided by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act
  • Courts have played a leading role in giving this broad scope to Section 230, but it may be that a major judicial shift towards narrower immunity is in the offing
  • Such matters of judicial interpretation are generally opaque to non-lawyers. This article is designed to provide non-lawyers engaging in the policy discussion about Section 230 with an understanding of this critical dimension

Article Summary

Fast-moving technological innovations with major social impact pose a challenge to the U.S. legal system, which often has difficulty fashioning a timely and appropriate response, especially if the innovations create opportunities for new forms of social mischief. Courts have a poorly understood but critical role in providing clarity to any response. This article examines the role of the courts in interpreting Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, and the implications of that role for the current policy debate over Section 230 reform.

Open Access


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John L. Akula

Senior Lecturer in Law, MIT Sloan School of Management, Cambridge, MA