The Truth About Lies: The Communications Decency Act Legalized Lying And Destroyed The Public Trust

While television, newspaper, magazine, and book publishers have always had legal and ethical responsibilities to print the “truth” (or to make clear that something is being set forth as an opinion, or as a fiction, if the piece is of such a nature- in which case, a person still has recourse against a publisher for libelous comments), section 230 of The Communications Decency Act (herein, the “CDA”) protects online service providers from actions against them based on publication of any false content by a third party on their websites or in their forums, which content is being presented as fact, stating in part that:

“No provider … of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider”.

Effectively, this section immunizes both ISPs and Internet forums and social media companies from liability for torts committed by users of their websites or online forums based upon the content published thereon by such users- but which is not created by the website or forum owner itself. The CDA has helped create billionaires, including at Facebook, Google, AOL, Yelp, and many other companies that generate significant revenues by advertising around third-party content they publish, regardless of its veracity.

Legislators are now analyzing and proposing the regulation of social media companies to have them acknowledge and address their social obligations to check, on some level, for truth of content.

People have been lying about businesses on Yelp, and on TripAdvisor, and on other business forums, for years. There are hardly any vetting processes for veracity at all in these forums. But, outcries and outrage by legislators are only now beginning to be voiced, despite businesses suffering for years from “Fake News”. Why?; because now it is affecting “them”. If regulations are going to be placed on social media (and quasi-political) websites such as Facebook, then regulations should be placed on the activities and operations of business review forums, too.

The CDA is materially responsible for having destroyed our trust in our communities and in our society-at-large. It made lying legal- and, since negative and scandalous content leads to readers, which leads to ad sales, which means revenues- it also made it very profitable for websites and Internet and social media companies to allow it- if not encourage it.

And now, an even greater adversary to trust and truth is on the rise- a service that tells us- by its very name- that it is a lie- “Augmented Reality”. So now, not only won’t we be able to believe what we read– we won’t be able to believe what we see, either. If regulations on websites and forums are to be increased (which should begin with the repeal of section 230 of the CDA), what impact, if any, will such regulations have on the truthfulness of “images”?

Regardless of any future regulations of any content, whether it be of words or of images, we can be sure that, because of the Internet and what the CDA has permitted to occur to date, we will never again be able to definitively distinguish truth from fantasy with regard to information published online. No new laws or regulations can substitute for what has already been lost forever … our trust of each other and of our social, media, and political systems.

 

Neil S. Siskind, Esq., President
The Siskind Law Firm
Tel: 646.530.0006

Neil Siskind is the Founder & Chairman of The Fatherhood Assignment
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Learn more at:  http://www.neil-siskind-the-fatherhood-assignment.org/

Neil Siskind is the Conservator of the Neil S. Siskind Nature Preserve
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The Neil S. Siskind Nature Preserve is over 7 acres of environmentally-pristine waterfront land in a magnificent setting along New York’s majestic Hudson River. The Preserve includes a variety of species of animal and plant life, and is a precious example of the thoughtful maintenance of New York’s priceless open spaces. The land’s uses are limited to outdoor recreation such as hiking and climbing, and the study of ecology, nature and land use. The Neil S. Siskind Nature Preserve allows for the intelligent contemplation of our valuable natural resources and the most effective ways to maximize them and keep them protected.

Neil Siskind, Founder, “National Fatherhood Day” – March 29th

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To encourage recognition of the needs of boys and girls who are living without fathers or father-figures in their lives.

Read about the non-profits and charities whose missions Neil Siskind supports and promotes: www.neilsiskindsupports.com
Caring is Free®

You can read what clients and associates say about Neil Siskind at: http://siskindlawfirm.com/neil-siskind-bio/.

Neil Siskind’s Volunteer Work:

– Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Volunteer

– Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, My Fundraiser- Help Neil Siskind help children with cancer to be more comfortable: http://mskcc.convio.net/site/TR?px=3182108&fr_id=2632&pg=personal

– Make-A Wish Foundation- Help Neil Siskind make sick children’s wishes come true by creating your own fundraiser: Neil-Siskind/Help-Make-A-Child-Smile.htm

– DonorsChoose.org- Donate to one of my needy public classrooms: http://www.donorschoose.org/NeilSiskindGiving

– Champion Children– We seek to inspire people through stories of children who have overcome challenges: http://siskindlawfirm.com/neil-siskind-champion-children/


Neil Siskind’s Pro Bono
Work:

– Saving Senior Citizens- Protecting New York’s senior citizens from fraud and financial abuse www.savingseniorcitizens.com

– Senior FreeStart Business– Pro Bono: We seek to help put senior citizens in the right direction so that they can face the challenges of the modern economy: http://siskindlawfirm.com/free-start-business/

– Veteran FreeStart Business– Pro Bono: We seek to help put Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans in the right direction so that they can face the challenges of the modern economy: http://siskindlawfirm.com/free-start-business/

– In development: The Neil S. Siskind School of Hope: A free school to teach inner-city youths the skills of entrepreneurship and importance of economic self-sufficiency.

Neil Siskind’s Government Work:

– Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, Boston, MA, 1994, Intern
– Office of Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Newington, CT, 1992, Intern
– Hartford County Department of Probation, Hartford, CT, 1991, Intern

Neil Siskind’s Community Assistance:

Financed & operated a legal clinic providing low-cost legal services to struggling Long Islanders during the recession to help clients resolve debt, organize finances, and launch new businesses.

Neil Siskind’s Professional Curriculum Vitae: http://neilsiskind.com/

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Neil Siskind’s Poetry

Ahoy And Farewell
by Neil Siskind

 

Ship ahoy!
Her horn she blows
she turns my way
the skipper rose

Her bow approached
but then it veered
away from me
at last, she steered

The ocean, vast
had once felt small
the charted course
still lost us all

Two ships near merged
but passed at sea
one ship was “her”
the other- me

 

 

Ahoy And Farewell © 2018 Neil Siskind

The Devil Above Las Vegas

The Devil Above Las Vegas
by Neil S. Siskind


Paper thin, eggshell-like,
tread light, ‘cause such is life.
A fright from the sky- something not quite right catches a concertgoer’s eye,
rain, rain- but not the same,
it had the purpose neither to cleanse nor to nourish,
it was deranged-
and caused the pain that the innocents sustained.

Raving mad,
the very essence and definition of bad,
a most desperate and depraved and despicable plan could hardly originate in a sensible man,
evil as loud as the crowd and the music,
this hell was set high up, but it was surely not heaven,
the evil act proves it-
only the Devil himself could choose it.

Neil Siskind’s Poetry

The Devil Above Las Vegas
by Neil S. Siskind


Paper thin, eggshell-like,
tread light, ‘cause such is life.
A fright from the sky- something not quite right catches a concertgoer’s eye,
rain, rain- but not the same,
it had the purpose neither to cleanse nor to nourish,
it was deranged-
and caused the pain that the innocents sustained.

Raving mad,
the very essence and definition of bad,
a most desperate and depraved and despicable plan could hardly originate in a sensible man,
evil as loud as the crowd and the music,
this rage was from high up, but was not from heaven,
the evil act proves it-
only the Devil could choose it.

A Vital Legal Fact About Athletes And The National Anthem

Police procedures and regulations fall under, and are created pursuant to, state laws. Police brutality laws (like all assault-related laws) and prosecutorial discretion, are state, and even county, issues. These things have little to do with the U.S. flag, the national anthem, or the federal government.

States were set up so that each individual can live in the state that engages in activities and operates under laws that the individual prefers. We are a nation of states. While it’s true that all states have to operate within the parameters of the U.S. Constitution, if they are doing so, any “beef” related to problematic police activity and any failure to address law enforcement crime and punishment in a given state, ought to be addressed to that state … and not to the entire nation. The nation can’t go arrest a state (or any person in a state for violating a state law). States have their own constitutions and their own laws and legal systems.

The federal government can get involved in certain state activities if there are civil rights violations, but this is not the issue at hand. The issue is police brutality and state laws and responses to allegations of undue aggression and violence by state and local law enforcement. It has to be addressed to governors, mayors, state legislators, and state and county prosecutors. The federal government can’t get involved in Delaware’s and Rhode Island’s and South Dakota’s local policing activities and all of their respective county prosecutors’ decisions. The system is just not set up this way. Even if it so desired, the federal government simply cannot intercede in states’ or counties’ law enforcement activities or policies or procedures in any way that violates states’ rights and state autonomy.

If athletes want to protest police activities and the failure of government to address and/or punish such activities when necessary, they need to protest against the proper government … which would be the applicable state government.

_ _ _

About the Author

Neil Siskind is: President of The Siskind Law Firm, focused on product investments, trademark licensing, product distribution, and real estate; Founder & Chairman of The Fatherhood Assignment™, a think tank and advocate for children with absentee fathers; Founder of the global charity marketing initiative, Caring is Free®; Founder of National Fatherhood Day™; Owner & Conservator of The Neil S. Siskind Nature Preserve, over 7 acres of conserved waterfront land along New York’s majestic Hudson River; and author of The Complete Guide To The Ways To Manufacture & Sell Your Products.

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