Professor Olivier Sylvain was quoted in an article for ProPublica highlighting the risks posed by the lack of background screenings in online dating. Sylvain explains that many companies are protected by CDA 230 and cases of harm between users are sometimes dismissed.
The [Communications Decency] act, passed in 1996, when internet companies were nascent and viewed as needing protection, contains a provision, known as CDA Section 230, that was originally intended to protect websites from being held liable for their users’ speech.
Companies, including Match Group, have successfully invoked CDA 230 to shield themselves from liability in incidents involving users harmed by other users, including victims of sexual assault. Internet regulation experts say the measure effectively allows online dating companies to avoid legal repercussions. In the few civil suits accusing Match Group platforms of negligence for online dating sexual assaults, its lawyers have cited CDA 230 to try to dismiss nearly every one, records show.
Olivier Sylvain, a Fordham University law professor who specializes in the ethics of media and technology, believes judges have been so overly generous in interpreting CDA 230 that they dismiss cases before an aggrieved party can even obtain information about the company’s response. “That speaks to how these companies are held unaccountable,” he said.