Once Again, Websites Not Liable For User Stupidity

    January 14, 2009
    WebProNews Staff

Okay knuckleheads, you can’t rely on a website to make sure a girl’s 18. And when you get in trouble because she’s actually 14, it’s not the website’s fault, even if their age verification process is ridiculous.

Ask for ID. Make sure it’s real. Maybe ask for a birth certificate, too. Because it ain’t SexSearch.com that’s serving jail time, got it? And an appeals court just said the website can’t be held liable for the girl’s lie, not because of the usual Communications Decency Act protections from third-party content, but because the dude that sued SexSearch didn’t make sure she was 18, either.

It was probably a good idea to look around for Chris Hansen, too, ya creep.

Not that SexSearch shouldn’t—um, isn’t morally obligated to—make better efforts to confirm user ages. But in this situation, where a crime was committed offline because of information perceived to be true via a specific medium, there would be infinite liability for all websites, and book publishers, and broadcasters, and on and on, for anything.

The judge says it better:

"Given the nature of the service, which encourages members to meet in person for sexual encounters, SexSearch’s potential liability is nearly limitless. For example, arrest, diseases of various sorts, and injuries caused by irate family members or others may be the result of such hedonistic sex.”

Yeah, and it makes your mom sad, too.

Hat tip to Technology and Marketing Law Blog