The Washington Post reported on 23 April 1998 that a recent US court case has distinguished internet services from other types of publishers: they cannot be sued in civil courts for content provided to them by others.
"In recognition of the speed with which information may be disseminated and the near impossibility of regulating information content, Congress decided not to treat providers of interactive computer services like other information providers such as newspapers, magazines or television and radio stations, all of which may be held liable for publishing or distributing obscene or defamatory material written or prepared by others," the ruling says.
This ruling would, at least for the US, seem to place internet content providers in the class of "common carrier" (like the telephone system as I understand it) rather than editorial voice. In the specific case, a libel suit was brought by a Clinton advisor against a journalist and AOL (which carried the journalist's online column).
Competing interests: No competing interests