Computer Ethics, Fall 2022

Thursdays 4:15-6:45

Class 9, Oct 27


Read Chapter 3 on Speech


Section 230 (subsequent cases; 50 min)

Threat Speech (PP v ACLA) (week 8, 37 min)

Software as Speech (week 9, 31 min)

Ad Blocking is under attack

It turns out this is from 2017, but it's interesting DMCA news anyway.

The DMCA allows takedown only for claims that the site is hosting copyrighted content. But content owners have been pushing that, sending takedown notices for content that they argue "contributes" to infringement, or which violates some other section of the DMCA. Github, for example, got takedown notices for hosting youtube-dl, a tool that allows downloading of YouTube videos. The example here is even stranger: one domain in the adblock domain list ( was removed due to a DMCA request. The idea is that the DMCA bans tools that bypass "technological measures" that control access to a work. The theory is that adblockers are a technological measure that limits access to ads. From 17 USC 1201:

(2) No person shall manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide, or otherwise traffic in any technology, product, service, device, component, or part thereof, that—
(A) is primarily designed or produced for the purpose of circumventing a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title;

Of course the DMCA is supposed to be forbidding giving people more access to content than they should have, not less. And adblockers don't prevent access to ads. Ok, that's not the whole argument: part of it is that websites install anti-adblocking tools (like BlockAdblock), and ad-blockers then circumvent these tools, which have the goal of controlling access in the sense of requiring 100% access. Ad blockers circumvent the publisher's desire to present the entirety of their page.

Uh huh.

There is a court case in Germany that rejected this theory in early 2022.

Speech and Section 230

Backpage and FOSTA/SESTA

Criminal Libel

First Person Libel

Threat speech

Hate Speech in Germany

LICRA v Yahoo