The 26 Words That Created the Internet: The History and Future of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act

  • Starts: 3:30 pm on Wednesday, January 16, 2019
  • Ends: 5:00 pm on Wednesday, January 16, 2019
"No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider." In 1996, Congress enacted those 26 words in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The law received virtually no public attention or scrutiny, as it was attached to a massive overhaul of U.S. telecommunications laws. Yet more than two decades later, those 26 words have had more impact on the creation of the modern Internet than any other part of the United States Code. By providing unprecedented legal immunity to online platforms for all claims arising from user content, the law is responsible for social media, search engines, Wikipedia, Yelp, and any other online operation that relies on third-party content. The law also has prevented plaintiffs from recovering damages from websites and other platforms that have hosted – and, in some cases, encouraged – harmful content such as defamatory comments.

In this Cyber Alliance talk, Jeff Kosseff, an assistant professor in the United States Naval Academy's Cyber Science Department, will discuss his forthcoming book about Section 230, The Twenty-Six Words That Created the Internet (Cornell University Press). Through dozens of interviews and reviews of thousands of pages of court documents, he traces Section 230’s history, impacts on society, equities, and future.

There will be time for casual conversation and light refreshments before and after the presentation. Please RSVP to
Seminar Room, Hariri Institute for Computing, 111 Cummington Mall