One of the key principles behind the growth of the internet was belief in
protection against secondary liability claims. That is, if you set up a
website where users can post stuff, the people who post stuff are liable for
the content -- not you as the service provider in the middle. This is the
core purpose behind Section 230 of the CDA (and, to a lesser extent) the
DMCA's safe harbors. But there are some loopholes where technically there
are no official safe harbors (though common sense says you still shouldn't
be liable). The website JotForm.com, which allows individuals to create
their own forms easily, has had its main domain, jotform.com "suspended" by
the US government, due to "an ongoing investigation." Because of this
JotForm is forcing all of its users to change their forms to use their .net
domain rather than their .com.
Many people on the comments assumed the content was posted by us. This can
happen to any site that allows public to post content. SOPA may not have
passed, but what happened shows that it is already being practiced. All they
have to do is to ask GoDaddy to take a site down. We have 2 millions user
generated forms. It is not possible for us to manually review all forms.
This can happen to any web site that allows user generated content.
I'm at a loss as to how this possibly makes sense. Even if the forms were
being used for some illegal purpose (and it's important to note that Section
230 does not apply to criminal activity -- just civil offenses), I still
can't fathom a reason why it should lead to everyone else getting censored
and an internet startup facing a massive hardship wherein tons of users have
had their service disrupted with millions of useful forms being suddenly
And I won't even bother spending any time on the fact that apparently it was
GoDaddy who helped the US government "suspend" the domain.