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Running a chatroom

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warlochi

New member
Hello,

I'm considering hosting an uncensored chat room on my website.
What legal issues does this have?
Would I be responsible for any of the content my users share or say?
e.g. threats, drug negotiation...

NB: US state is Illinois

thanks in advance
 
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quincy

Senior Member
Hello,

I'm considering hosting an uncensored chat room on my website.
What legal issues does this have?
Would I be responsible for any of the content my users share or say?
e.g. threats, drug negotiation...

NB: US state is Illinois

thanks in advance
Yes. You potentially can be held legally liable for content provided by your contributors.

A web host is offered some protection from suit through the Communications Decency Act’s section 230, this if the web host does not help create content or encourage the publication of certain content but CDA’s 230 protection is not an absolute immunity from suit.
http://www.columbia.edu/~mr2651/ecommerce3/2nd/statutes/CommunicationsDecencyAct.pdf

You have rights-protected material that cannot be published on your site (or, if published, that must be removed on notification) and you have pornography laws to negotiate and ... well, it is enough to say that you can be sued.

You will want your specific plans personally reviewed by a publishing law professional prior to implementing these plans. And you will want insurance.

Here is a link to the Knight Community News Network where you can search the home page for the learning module titled “Limiting Legal Risk.” Although targeted to online journalists, the legal risks exist for all those who operate online sites. I recommend you read through all of the information provided. http://kcnn.org
 
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FarmerJ

Senior Member
IF for example you were to use a IRC styled chat so people who knew how to use things like MIRC could join the chat let alone so called browser based chat users then you want to make sure that file sending is turned off/ blocked. ( since that should be enough so that chat users who use progs that do share files will be forced to use other programs to share that your not responsible for)
 

quincy

Senior Member
Thanks a lot, I'll read through http://kcnn.org/
KCNN has a lot of good information but I think the Limiting Legal Risks module covers better than any other site the areas of law that are of greatest concern to online writers and publishers.

You are smart to be considering the legal aspects of running your chat room now. That bodes well for your success.

Good luck.
 
Hello,

I'm considering hosting an uncensored chat room on my website.
What legal issues does this have?
Would I be responsible for any of the content my users share or say?
e.g. threats, drug negotiation...

NB: US state is Illinois

thanks in advance
Research Ross Ulbricht.
He ran the unregulated silk road website where guns, counterfeit documents and illegal drugs were openly traded.
In 2015, despite his claims that he was not responsible for what the site was used for, he was sentenced to two terms of life imprisonment with no chance of parole.
Just a heads up :cool:
 

quincy

Senior Member
Research Ross Ulbricht.
He ran the unregulated silk road website where guns, counterfeit documents and illegal drugs were openly traded.
In 2015, despite his claims that he was not responsible for what the site was used for, he was sentenced to two terms of life imprisonment with no chance of parole.
Just a heads up :cool:
There are several “heads up” examples. Those who start websites without proper preparation can find themselves with quite an expensive legal mess to clean up.

As a note: Congress has been debating changes to the Communications Decency Act’s section 230 to further limit the immunities offered online services. Recent changes to the Act included the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act and the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (Fosta-Sesta) which eliminates immunity for services that promote or facilitate prostitution.
 
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FarmerJ

Senior Member
another thing if your going to run a chat no matter what the format is if there is instant messaging / private messaging allowed by the software like how most IRC chats Ive used permit you may well want to learn if you can set it so there is no Private messaging permitted unless someone say has Room operator status Not owner status owner status would actually allow your room to be taken over by another but just room op can eject users who violate room rules , mute them by setting them to spectator status so any keyboard commands are blocked and lastly being able to Ban someone. BTW have you ever used IRC styled chats ?
 

FarmerJ

Senior Member
The reason for not allowing private messages or even the /notice feature would help keep every thing in a public forum.
 

quincy

Senior Member
There are a lot of areas that need to be addressed to best protect against lawsuits. Private messaging would be one of those areas of lesser concern to a web host.
 

warlochi

New member
The website I would like to host only supports one to one private messaging, and it is not IRC. Chats are discarded once the users leave. Also note that only text can be sent, so no images or videos.
 

quincy

Senior Member
The website I would like to host only supports one to one private messaging, and it is not IRC. Chats are discarded once the users leave. Also note that only text can be sent, so no images or videos.
Again, private messaging would not be much of a legal issue for you. You would not be contributing to the content.

Restricting the ability of contributors to post images and/or videos can be smart.
 

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