Section 230, the Supreme Court and Why Adult Industry Companies Should Pay Attention

Working in a sector heavily reliant on the internet may be difficult since you must deal with a number of rules that could either benefit or hurt your company.

To operate in the U.S. market, the world’s largest consumer market for online pornography, adult entertainment industry companies with a web-based presence must adhere to specific rules and restrictions, just like social media networks and e-commerce platforms. At Adult Business Consulting, we make every effort to keep abreast of all governmental and judicial developments that have an impact on the global adult entertainment market. Although the United States sets the agenda when it comes to regulation for businesses that operate in this sector, as is the case for other industries.

Why Are We Writing About Section 230 Again?

One such statute is Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. We’ve previously written about this law. Its supporters refer to Section 230 as the “First Amendment of the internet.” This is because of the way the legislation is set up, which shields interactive web platforms from being held accountable for actions taken by users who may use them for potentially illegal purposes. This law gives organizations like MindGeek, Meta, or Twitter the authority to implement self-regulation policies that support a platform’s content moderation standards to guarantee that illegal content or content that contravenes terms and services agreements is not present on the relevant platforms. Additionally, the operators of these websites may not be held responsible for the shared content or its source if it appears on self-regulatory platforms. For instance, MindGeek, the parent company of Pornhub, is entirely within its rights to remove any child abuse sexual material (CSAM) posted by a user, to ban the user’s account, and to report the incident to local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies through organizations like the Association of Sites Advocating for Child Protection (ASACP) or the National Center on Missing and Exploited Children.

However, Section 230 is the subject of substantial hyper partisan dispute. Politics on the national and international levels are allegedly under the control of social media networks, according to critics in both the Republican and Democratic parties. Republicans who oppose the law claim that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act gives technology companies like Twitter the right to censor content posted by users who have conservative or right-wing political views that might conflict with the left-leaning corporate cultures of these companies and the terms and conditions these platforms already have in place. Democrats think that because it is profitable, Section 230 encourages major social media and technology companies to spread false information, false information, and potentially extremist content on their platforms. President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump are only two examples of prominent politicians on both sides who have valid arguments against Section 230. To guarantee free speech, including consensual pornography, online, the web law is essential. This blog entry must address the most recent legal challenge to the statute, which the US Supreme Court considered in February 2023. We have examined this matter before the top court without rehashing previous information. Let’s just say we have some ideas to contribute.

Gonzalez v. Google and the Supreme Court

For those Americans who don’t know or are from abroad, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the Gonzalez v. Google case. Our pals at have closely followed this legal matter. Nohemi Gonzalez’s family filed a lawsuit challenging Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 on the grounds that YouTube, which is owned by Google, was partially to blame for her passing. Nohemi Gonzalez, an American college student on exchange in France, perished in the 2015 Paris terror attacks carried out by the extreme terrorist organization the Islamic State.

Why Is It Important?

According to the Gonzalez family petitioners, the safe harbor provisions of Section 230 do not defend the content recommendation algorithms utilized by websites like YouTube. This is due to the petitioners’ contention that the recommendation algorithms could designate a website like YouTube as a publisher as opposed to a platform. As previously mentioned, Section 230 offers protection from third-party users who serve as publishers of third-party web material. However, if a platform like YouTube is seen as the publisher or as an organization that carries out some of the functions of a publisher, then the platform may be held accountable for disseminating propaganda for terrorism and extremism. In the long term, a new definition of the Section 230 safe harbor provision in this structure could be exceedingly detrimental.

Free Speech, Sex, and Adult Entertainment Companies

You see, the Gonzalez petitioners want to define Section 230 so narrowly that if they succeed, it will be impossible for Americans to express themselves freely online. This is relevant to adult websites because, as was previously mentioned, Section 230 permits websites to self-regulate and delete potentially objectionable or illegal information. With the passage of FOSTA-SESTA, a Trump-era anti-sex trafficking statute that has done nothing to stop human trafficking and has suppressed types of expression that are protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, Section 230 unfortunately witnessed a gutting of this attitude. Fortunately, the nine justices of the Supreme Court acknowledged that they required clarification of the law and clarity regarding expanding the parameters of Section 230 with the help of the most important legislative entity in this case: Congress. When the matter went before the Supreme Court for oral arguments in February 2023, conservative justice Brett Kavanaugh surprised everyone by speaking with common sense. Isn’t it preferable to put the onus of changing [Section 230] on Congress, he questioned?

Kavanaugh voted with Elena Kagan, a liberal Supreme Court justice, who agreed with most of the justices that the court is probably not the appropriate place to decide on a policy that could irreversibly impair the digital economy and free expression on the internet. Kagan is a liberal, while Kavanaugh is a conservative. They are only a court, Kagan replied, indicating their stance. “These are things that we really don’t know about. Justice Kagan acknowledged, “[We] are hardly the nine best experts on the internet.

Why Should We Pay Attention?

We consider these insights to be crucial. Why? Let’s simply discuss this. The high court judges openly acknowledged that they had no notion what to do in the Gonzalez case. This is advantageous to the proponents of the digital economy, including the online adult entertainment sector, who ought to inform the Supreme Court and Congress of the possible repercussions of redefining or abolishing Section 230. Although the Supreme Court has not yet rendered a final decision, we predict that Congress will determine whether to keep, modify, or remove Section 230. This enables us to advocate for a fair law that safeguards Section 230 and online sex workers.

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