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Of Death Threats and Blog Law

When I first read about the death threats against blogger Kathy Sierra, I immediately wondered how the legal blogosphere might respond. Sierra is not a lawyer, but the implications of what happened to her are decidedly legal. The threats ignited the blogosphere, as Don Fost well summarizes at The Tech Chronicles. Among the blogosphere's legal contingent, Maine attorney Al Nye suggests that lawyers who blog should gather round in support of Sierra. He is right, of course, but apart from expressing our abhorrence of the threats she received, what actions, if any, should lawyers take?

One immediate action, suggests Denise Howell at her blog Lawgarithms, should be to re-examine the issues surrounding legal responsibility for blog content and, in particular, to reconsider Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Howell explains:

"I have concerns about its ability to adequately protect each of the individuals who might confront, but by rights should not face, legal consequences in this sort of situation.  I have concerns about a court's willingness or ability to analogize this sort of situation to the existing body of Section 230 jurisprudence.  Those concerns are of course amplified as to parts of the world where Section 230 does not apply and has no local equivalent."

Without doubt, our response needs to be measured. The threats, as I understand it, were anonymous. But blame is being thrown in many directions. At the blogher blog, Ronni Bennett has a thoughtful discussion of the charges and counter-charges. What happened to Sierra is indefensible, but some are being implicated as co-conspirators when perhaps they should not be. That is Howell's concern, and it suggests to me that we not jump too quickly towards deciding guilt or adjudging remedies.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on March 28, 2007 at 05:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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