AOL founder Steve Case was there in Dulles, Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C., when in 1996 the Communications Decency Act was passed as part of a major overhaul of U.S. telecommunications laws that President Bill Clinton signed into law. Soon after, in its first test, a provision of that act which states that, “[n]o provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider,” would famously save AOL’s bacon. That wasn’t coincidental.

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