At 6:30 AM +0200 5/29/03, Anthony Atkielski wrote:
Not if it simultaneously wants protection from
liability for any content that the customer might
Now that I can fully agree with, although it's not an engineering issue.
ISPs that simultaneously want common-carrier protection from liability AND
the ability to finely dictate what types of traffic they will accept need to
choose one or the other. Either you screen and restrict the traffic on your
network, but you take full responsibility for whatever is passing over it,
or you just provide raw bandwidth and you are shielded from any claims of
impropriety in the use thereof. You can't have it both ways, as companies
like Prodigy have discovered.
FWIW, and not to drag us too far into a legal discussion, but the
above is not correct for the United States. In the US, ISPs are
not, and never have been viewed, as common carriers. And, as one can
see in the on-going arguments made about the possibility that cable
ISPs might interfere with content, ISPs in general have strongly
resisted being treated as common carriers. They do not want to take
on the obligations that common carrier status would bring.
Having said that, ISPs in the US do have common carrier-like
protection from liability for content of their customers and others
-- but this protection from liability is by statute, not as a result
of any common carrier status. Section 230(c)(1) of chapter 47 of the
U.S. Code states:
(1) Treatment of publisher or speaker
No provider or user of an interactive computer service [read,
an ISP] shall be
treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided
by another information content provider.
This protection from liability is in no way dependent on what
restrictions an ISP places on its traffic. Thus, for purposes of
this thread, if an ISP wants to "finely dictate what types of traffic
they will accept" they can do so without loss of liability protection.