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Free Expression

CDT Files Amicus Brief Explaining the Appropriate Role of Section 230 in Products Liability Litigation

Today, the Center for Democracy & Technology filed an amicus brief in Doe v. Grindr before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The case considers the intersection of protections afforded to interactive computer services (ICSs) under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and claims against ICSs for products liability. 

Section 230 plays a critical role in ensuring users’ ability to freely communicate and find the information they need online, but is not an absolute bar to liability claims, including product liability claims. Product liability lawsuits are often grounded in the duty that a particular manufacturer or service provider owes to its customers. 

The brief explains that Section 230 does not preclude product liability for claims when those claims would not seek to impose a duty on the ICS to moderate, monitor, or otherwise prevent user-generated content. Appropriate parsing of product liability claims’ relationship to the publication of user-generated content, as recommended by CDT’s brief, can simultaneously protect users’ ability to freely express themselves, while also empowering them to seek redress when harmed by an ICS’s faulty design. 

Read the full amicus brief.