Yesterday the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued an excellent decision in a focused-but-important appeal dealing with "Section 230," which provides vital protections to service providers who facilitate online speech and users' ability to control their Internet experiences.
The case involved a less familiar aspect of Section 230, which is commonly applied in free speech rulings that shield (for example) a social network from liability based on content posted by its users. Section 230 also protects service providers from liability from efforts to control offensive content. The Zango v. Kaspersky decision, however, dealt with a third and lesser well-known component of 230 - protection afforded to companies that make tools that users can use to control their own online experiences (such as filtering software).
The Zango case raised the question of whether an anti-spyware vendor (Kaspersky) would be shielded from liability under this third part of Section 230. Zango had argued that 230 only applied to tools that filter adult content, rather than more broadly applying to tools that allow users to control content such as spyware.
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