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47 USC § 230 - Bot Blockers Policy?

Protection for “Good Samaritan” blocking

3:49 am on Oct 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Administrator incredibill is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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I ran across this US Code being used by other bot blockers and anti-spammers to ward off anyone complaining they were being unfairly blocked or publicly mentioned. One site I saw using this as protection was divulging the IP address, email address and member name being used to block spammers which is a bit more than we do for spiders.

It claims this is for the "Protection for “Good Samaritan” blocking and screening of offensive material" and other bot blockers are using it to defend their actions.

I'm not sure if it's 100% applicable to what many of us do, but it sure seems to hold people harmless for disseminating the information required to perform such activities as long as it's “Good Samaritan” blocking which looked a little vague to me even after they tried to spell it out.

Would you use it on your site such as "This site blocks unauthorized access pursuant to 47 USC § 230" with a link?

Think it might make some of the locals think twice?

DISCLAIMER: We don't really discuss law here, nor make legal recommendations, this is strictly an FYI for educational purposes only.
4:31 am on Oct 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member wilderness is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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Most US internet providers have a policy, which says something to the effect of, "if your actions affect the activities of other users of the network in a negative manner, than your service could be suspended".

In my early days of dealing with harvesters, I actually contacted many US internet providers providing logs and also showing the IP ranges that I denied as a result of their customers actions.
My attempts solved little and I never was successful in in getting a provider to disconnect ;)

I did have some interesting communications (early on) with one very large internet provider hot-shot whom advised me to take my own server actions to prevent such abuses.
The same provider for some years had a few pages instructing people on how use htaccess to deny visitors, which I use to use for a tutorial link.

Others here have had some success in correspondence with providers.
Jim contacted many of minor players looking for RFC compliance in UA's, and only had minor success.
8:15 am on Oct 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from US 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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"This site blocks unauthorized access pursuant to 47 USC § 230"

I dunno. Have you ever received a (snailmail) chain letter that didn't say something like "This mailing is authorized under Federal code such-and-such..." giving the approximate number-and-paragraph of the law that in fact makes the letter illegal?

I might see the notice and think Yeah, sure they do. Or, ahem, wander off to read the law, follow some other interesting leads, and never come back to your site :)

Besides, "good Samaritan" seems a pretty grandiose description. Can't they reserve the phrase for laws that protect you if you try to save someone's life and happen to do some harm in the process?*

* If I were writing this online, I would here say: "Ethnopolitical analogies present themselves, but let's not go there." Oops.