Skip to main content


Should web hosts like Mindspring and online auction houses like eBay be held to the same standard as CSI, a brick-and-mortar flea market operator? Or does the Internet require special treatment due to its higher value as a vast source of information, communication, and social networking? On one hand, the Internet is a developing resource that the free market could shape without governmental regulation. Additionally, it is likely technologically infeasible for Mindspring or eBay to screen every vendor and product that passes through its virtual universe. On the other hand, consumers deserve protection from false and deceptive marketing practices of those who take advantage of the Internet's lack of accountability. An investigation into the legislative history of the statute, and the case law that followed its enactment, sheds light on the future of § 230's protection against marketing liabilities. The legislative history and case law suggest litigation strategies that are likely to be effective for plaintiff consumers and defendant website hosts and auction houses. Because recent cases show that courts may shield ISPs and forum websites for some actions but not others under the CDA, the CDA succeeds to some extent in balancing consumer's and ISP's needs on the Internet. However, Internet commerce needs additional solutions to protect consumers while at the same time fostering the growth of the virtual market. This paper discusses some strategies for balancing consumer and ISP interests, through both governmental and private regulation.


File nameDate UploadedVisibilityFile size
7 Nov 2022
160 kB



  • Subject
    • Consumer Protection Law

    • Intellectual Property Law

    • Science and Technology Law

  • Journal title
    • Boston College Intellectual Property and Technology Forum

  • Volume
    • 2009

  • Pagination
    • 1-22

  • Date submitted

    7 November 2022

  • Related URL