As I was watching the inauguration and the following festivities today, I kept thinking: How will internet defamation laws be influenced by Obama’s presidency? After all, I thought, Obama is the first american president to be described as "Internet savvy." The media has reported on numerous occasions that Obama is fond of using e-mail and he certainly understands social media, since, as of this writing, Obama has more followers on Twitter than any other person–no small feat.
So, the question becomes, what will internet laws look like in 4 or 8 years? Right now, the Internet is essentially the Wild Wild West. It is virtually unregulated and most courts have been unwilling to place any restraints on "speech," even arguably defamatory speech. For example, courts have broadly interpreted the Communications Decency Act to give internet service providers near absolute immunity for comments made by third party users of their services. Further, courts have routinely rejected plaintiffs’ attempts to discover the identities of anonymous defamers.
Because of the total lack of regulation coupled with the courts’ failure to address these issues, we saw in late 2008, the use of dated criminal laws to deal with the growing problem of internet defamation.
So what effect will Obama have on internet defamation laws? What do you think?