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Say there is a website allowing users to post ads/classifieds. Every ad includes the poster's contacts details (however, there is no guarantee that they are genuine).

Now, user U posts an ad containing unlawful/objectionable material (for example, offering a house for rent where the applicants are discriminated by race/sex/age etc., or adult photos, or copyright infringing content etc.).

The website owner would prefer to offer maximum freedom to the users and save on content moderation.

Given any of these jurisdictions: US, UK, Canada, AU, NZ, Singapore, are there laws that render the website owner responsible for not taking the U's ad down? Which laws in particular? Can not the responsibility simply stay with the user only, especially that they advertise their contact details?

Would the answer be affected if the site guaranteed that the user's contact details are genuine?

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In the U.S., a law commonly called Section 230 (47 U.S.C. § 230) relieves the owner of the site from all liability. To the best of my knowledge, the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore do not offer such expansive relief from liability (India, in particular, does not).

The five examples other than the U.S. would have to be reviewed one by one to get a full answer to your question.

  • 47 USC §230 does provide broad protection of online service providers (in the USA) from civil liability arising from the posting of content provided by others, but not necessarily immunity from criminal liability or even civil copyright infringement, hence the need for the later enactment of 17 USC § 512 DMCA safe harbors. – Upnorth Sep 26 '17 at 4:39
  • 47 US § 230 does provide immunity from criminal liability. It does not provide immunity from copyright infringement unless a DMCA take down procedure is in place. – ohwilleke Sep 26 '17 at 15:13

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