Ruling shields AOL on 'hostile code'
In what legal experts describe as a first, a federal appeals court has upheld a ruling that America Online and other Internet service providers are not liable for “hostile code” sent between subscribers. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit said last week that AOL could not be held accountable for a subscriber’s sending of hostile code through its service. John Green, a 54-year-old electronics engineer and founder of JP Green Associates, in Edison, N.J., had accused AOL of failing to enforce its terms of service against a subscriber who sent Green a so-called punter, or malicious software instructions designed to temporarily kick someone off the service. The court upheld a ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, which had said an ISP’s immunity from prosecution for a subscriber’s actions covers not only the sending of actionable words, but also of hostile code. Full Story