The ISPs do not have the responsibility of protecting the world from the information that is posted on the website (Harper, 2005). This is because they are the intermediaries and do not take time to read the information posted by their clients. As a result, they might host information that can be defaming or a violation of civil rights law. Their protection comes from the argument that they are not the source of the information. However, some of them have taken advantage of the protection and prefer posting this kind of information with the aim of getting human traffic to their websites for more profits.
In the light of the above information, it is important that the protection of the ISPs under section 230 be reduced to enhance ethical internet business. The ISPs should take part in regulation of the type of information put up on websites, so as to protect the rights of the third parties. Though they should not be directly liable for the mistakes committed by their clients, there should be the implication of indirect liability, where one party is in a position of stopping the bad acts of the other party (Litchman, 2004). In this case, the ISPs are to be responsible for bringing down all rights violating information upon notification by users or their discovery.
According to the current internet environment, there are many crimes happening online, which have led to security threats and illegal dealings. As a result, internet service providers are faced with potential liability for the acts of their subscribers. This will be the regulation of information uploaded to the sites under them by the users with the aim of reducing crimes and inappropriate use of internet by subscribers. This will come at a cost to the ISPs as it will consequently reduce their revenues, but is important for development of ethical internet usage (Tian, 2009 p. 175).
The information regulation role of the ISPs should be a part of their social responsibility to protect the rights of their users other than taking advantage and using this information to benefit themselves. Their responsibility is important to help in the fight against vices like child pornography and cyber crime. In this case, the ISP being the intermediaries, it is easy for the government and non governmental bodies to use them in the fight against human rights violations and children abuse and hence reduce cyber insecurity.
Internet service providers, who take advantage of the protection rights to benefit themselves, do not care about the third parties, and have a tendency of putting up information that is defaming to third parties with the main aim of attracting online users to their sites for more profits. The regulation of this information will only come at a cost, which is the level of traffic and the amount of profits made by the company. These postings include computer viruses that cause harm to computer user who depends on internet for communication and business. With ISP regulations, those involved in the making and posting of viruses can be identified and arrested (Posner & Lichtman, 2004).
According to the communications decency act of 1996, section 230, the intermediary service providers are not to be treated as the writers or editors of information provided by another company. This ensured the protection of the ISPs from mistakes that are made by their clients. The act did not consider the fact that the ISP may be receiving direct financial benefit from defamatory information posted in their websites. This has led to the increase of cyber crime and there is need for the ISPs to be called to the service of the law, so as to ensure regulated and ethical use of internet resources (Lichtman & Posner, 2004).
The problem of illegal distribution of copyrighted material by ISP subscriber has become a main problem. This can be prevented by the ISP's supervisory activities that should ensure only legitimate products are sold on their website. Just like in business, where a shop owner is indirectly responsible if other traders use his shop to trade counterfeit products, so should the ISP be indirectly responsible for stoppage of illegal sale of copyrighted materials through their site to help in the fight against digital information piracy.
The EU directive provides that the ISP should be liable for the alleged illegal contents that are posted by their subscribers and should immediately take action by bringing down such information from the websites. The bringing down of this defaming or illegal information should be done by the ISPs as soon as they discover the presence of such material in the websites that they host (Tian, 2009 p. 192). This directive does not compel the ISP to be monitoring the general activities of their clients, but ensures that they are alert in case of any infringing information; they will be able to bring it down and hence creating an ethical operation environment that is suitable for all users.
Many crimes continue to happen on internet because the condition of internet makes it hard and expensive to punish the individual wrong doer, without knowing who they are or where they are located. In this case, the indirect liability is very important as the ISPs will be in a position to identify the wrong doer and deter them from committing criminal activities. This is because they will be better positioned to enable the monitoring and control of the activities of individual users of their services. This can be done by monitoring of a subscriber's patterns of actions online such as messaging, and the ISP can stop the service before the client uses it to commit a crime.
The breaking into government and companies intranets through the internet can be controlled by the ISPs by use monitoring tools. These tools are to scan all packet data that is transmitted in a network for presence of any problematic communications. When this is detected, they can then deploy the packet sniffers that will thoroughly inspect the data and record all the information. This is important as it can be used in solving many cyber crimes before they take place. However, this can only be possible if the ISPs accept to take the indirect liability of the actions of their subscribers.
Cyber pornography is also a major problem among the young people and its happening due to availability of the materials all over the internet. These sites are hosted by specific ISPs, who do not bother to bring them down so as to maintain their level of traffic and earnings. These sites are used for illegitimately downloading and transmission of pornographic materials. With ISP taking responsibility, it will be possible to bring down such material from their sites and help in fighting moral indecency and crimes such as child pornography. The ISP should be able to create filters for children using internet to protect them from pornography, gambling, hate speech and drugs (Campbell, 2010).
There are people who have argued against the ISP liability, they state that according to the communications decency act of 1996, section 230, the ISPs are defined as the intermediaries. This means that their work is to facilitate the relationship between producers and users of information on internet. In this regard, they are not the source of the information and are also not the editors and hence in the law they are not responsible for any accusations made over the information. In this case the indirect liability is important as it enables them to act as watch dogs stopping either of the other parties from committing cyber crimes.
Others base their argument on the fact that it will reduce the revenues of the companies due to bringing down of material that might have the potential of increasing the traffic to their websites. In addition, the ISPs have numerous customers and monitoring each and everyone proves to be a hard task. However, this complication can still be solved by use of computer programs that will monitor individual client trends and that will be able to record their performance and send notifications in case there is any form of suspicious activity from the users for the ISP action (Harper, 2005).
In conclusion the ISP protection has led to some companies taking advantage to post defaming or information that is against individual civil rights on internet for their income generation benefit. As a result a control of the same is important for protection of individual rights, establishment of an ethical internet usage platform and a control of cyber crime. Therefore, the ISP should take responsibility of the material posted by their individual clients and prevent chances of cyber crimes taking place.
Campbel, A. (2010). Cyber Crime Strategy. Internet Security Threat Report, 1-38. Retrieved from http://www.official-documents.gov.uk/document/cm78/7842/7842.pdf
Jim, H. (2005). Against ISP Liability.Telecommunications and Technology, 30-33. Retrieved from http://www.cato.org/pubs/regulation/regv28n1/v28n1-5.pdf
Lichtma & Posner, (2004). Holding Internet Service Providers Accountabl. The Chicago Working Paper Series, (217), 1-50. Retrieved from http://www.law.uchicago.edu/files/files/217-dgl-eap-isp.pdf
Lichtman, D. (2004). Holding Internet Service Providers Accountable. Telecommunications and Technology, 54-59. Retrieved from http://www.cato.org/pubs/regulation/regv27n4/v27n4-7.pdf
Middleton, G. L. (2005). Liability of ISPs for Online Copyright Infringement. Copyright Conundrum, 1-10.