June 15, 1997 in Nation/World

America Online Not Liable For Porno

Compiled From Wire Services
 

America Online is not liable for customers who use the service to peddle pornography in cyberspace, a state judge has ruled.

Federal law leaves it up to parents to police their personal computers, Circuit Judge James Carlisle said Friday.

The lawsuit was filed in January on behalf of a 14-year-old boy who was sexually assaulted by Richard Lee Russell in 1994. The two met by exchanging messages in an AOL “chat room.”

Russell pleaded guilty to federal and state charges stemming from the assault and is in federal prison.

The lawsuit said AOL’s rules prohibiting customers from posting obscene or illegal material were so poorly enforced that the provider became “a home shopping network for pedophiles and child pornographers.”

The judge cited the Communications Decency Act of 1996. Though the bulk of the law consists of anti-pornography measures, one section says companies such as AOL cannot be sued for the statements of others.


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