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Category Archives: Online Content

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CDA “Reform” on the Horizon: Investors and Operators Take Note

The appetite for acquisitions and investment in online businesses has never been stronger, with many of the most attractive online opportunities being businesses that host, manage and leverage user-generated content.  These businesses often rely on the immunities offered by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, 47 U.S.C. §230 (“Section 230” or the “CDA”) to … Continue Reading

Facebook Brings Suit against Developers of a Browser Extension That Harvested User Data

In continuing its efforts to enforce its terms and policies against developers that engage in unauthorized scraping of user data, this week Facebook brought suit against two marketing analytics firms, BrandTotal Ltd (“BrandTotal”) and Unimania, Inc. (“Unimania”) (collectively, the “Defendants”) (Facebook, Inc. v. BrandTotal Ltd., No. 20Civ04246 (Cal. Super. Ct., San Mateo Cty Filed Oct. … Continue Reading

DOJ Submits CDA Reform Proposal to Congress to Curtail Protections for Online Platforms

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, 47 U.S.C. §230 (“Section 230” or the “CDA”), enacted in 1996, is generally viewed as the most important statute supporting the growth of Internet commerce.  The key provision of the CDA, Section 230(c)(1)(a), only 26 words long, simply states: “No provider or user of an interactive computer service … Continue Reading

Commerce Dept. Petitions FCC to Issue Rules Clarifying CDA Section 230

The currents around the Communications Decency Act just got a little more turbulent as the White House and executive branch try to reel in the big fish of CDA reform. On July 27, 2020, the Commerce Department submitted a petition requesting the FCC initiate a rulemaking to clarify the provisions of Section 230 of the … Continue Reading

The Communication Decency Act and the DOJ’s Proposed Solution: No Easy Answers

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (“CDA”), 47 U.S.C. §230, enacted in 1996, is often cited as the most important law supporting the Internet, e-commerce and the online economy. Yet, it continues to be subject to intense criticism, including from politicians from both sides of the aisle. Many argue that the CDA has been … Continue Reading

Wholesale Scraping of “Public” Data May Be Trade Secret Misappropriation

In what could be prove to be an important decision within the context of scraping of “public” data, in a recent case the Eleventh Circuit reversed a lower court’s dismissal of trade secret claims relating to the scraping of insurance quotes. (Compulife Software, Inc. v. Newman, No. 18-12004 (11th Cir. May 20, 2020)). The appellate … Continue Reading

President Signs Executive Order Directing Agencies to Probe the Contours of CDA Immunity

President Trump signed an Executive Order today attempting to curtail legal protections under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (“Section 230” or the “CDA”). The Executive Order strives to clarify that Section 230 immunity “should not extend beyond its text and purpose to provide protection for those who purport to provide users a forum … Continue Reading

President to Unveil Executive Order to Address CDA Section 230 Protections

UPDATE: On the afternoon of May 28, 2020, the President signed the executive order concerning CDA Section 230. A copy/link to the order has not yet been posted on the White House’s website.   According to news reports, the Trump Administration (the “Administration”) is drafting and the President is set to sign an executive order … Continue Reading

French Data Protection Authority Speaks to Web Scraping

Late last month, the French data protection authority, the CNIL, published guidance surrounding considerations behind what it calls “commercial prospecting,” meaning scraping publicly available website data to obtain individuals’ contact info for purposes of selling such data to third parties for direct marketing purposes.  The guidance is noteworthy in two respects.  First, it speaks to … Continue Reading

Online Platforms Sidestep Claims over User Content Decisions and Social App Functions

Despite continued scrutiny over the legal immunity online providers enjoy under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA), online platforms continue to successfully invoke its protections. This is illustrated by three recent decisions in which courts dismissed claims that sought to impose liability on providers for hosting or restricting access to user content and … Continue Reading

Repeal of CDA Section 230?

In an interview with the editorial board of the New York Times, published today, former Vice President Joe Biden advocated for repeal of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA).  As readers of this blog may know, the CDA offers service providers protections that underpin the hosting of much of the user-generated content (both … Continue Reading

Retailer Reminder: FTC Releases Guidance for Social Media Influencers

With the online shopping season in full swing, the FTC decided that online retailers might benefit from a reminder as to the dos and don’ts for social media influencers.  Thus, the FTC released a new guide, “Disclosures 101 for Social Media Influencers,” that reiterates its position about the responsibility of “influencers” to disclose “material” connections … Continue Reading

Circuit Court Denies LinkedIn’s Petition for En Banc Review of hiQ Scraping Decision

Last month, LinkedIn Corp. (“LinkedIn”) filed a petition for rehearing en banc of the Ninth Circuit’s blockbuster decision in hiQ Labs, Inc. v. LinkedIn Corp., No. 17-16783 (9th Cir. Sept. 9, 2019). The crucial question before the original panel concerned the scope of Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) liability to unwanted web scraping of publicly available social media … Continue Reading

LinkedIn Petitions Circuit Court for En Banc Review of hiQ Scraping Decision

On October 11, 2019, LinkedIn Corp. (“LinkedIn”) filed a petition for rehearing en banc of the Ninth Circuit’s blockbuster decision in hiQ Labs, Inc. v. LinkedIn Corp., No. 17-16783 (9th Cir. Sept. 9, 2019). The crucial question before the original panel concerned the scope of Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) liability to unwanted web … Continue Reading

hiQ v. LinkedIn Redux? Ninth Circuit Decision Tested in New Case

UPDATE: On October 14, 2019, the parties entered into a Joint Stipulation dismissing the case, with prejudice.  It appears from some reports that Stackla’s access to Facebook has been reinstated as part of the settlement.   UPDATE: On September 27, 2019, the California district court issued its written order denying Stackla’s request for a TRO.  In … Continue Reading

In Blockbuster Ruling, Ninth Circuit Affirms hiQ Injunction — CFAA Claim Likely Not Available for Scraping Publicly Available Website Data

In a ruling that is being hailed as a victory for web scrapers and the open nature of publicly available website data, the Ninth Circuit today issued its long-awaited opinion in hiQ Labs, Inc. v. LinkedIn Corp., No. 17-16783 (9th Cir. Sept. 9, 2019). The crucial question before the court was whether once hiQ Labs, … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Releases Another Important CDA Section 230 Opinion With Broad Application – Automated Content Recommendation and Notification Tools Do Not Make Social Site the Developer of User Posts

In the swirl of scrutiny surrounding the big Silicon Valley tech companies and with some in Congress declaiming that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) should be curtailed, 2019 has quietly been an important year for CDA jurisprudence with a number of opinions enunciating robust immunity under CDA Section 230. In particular, there … Continue Reading

Recent Rulings Highlight Limits of CDA Immunity in Products Liability Cases against E-Commerce Platforms

UPDATE: On August 23, 2019, the Third Circuit granted Amazon’s petition for rehearing en banc in the Oberdorf case.  As per the order, the opinion dated July 3, 2019 is vacated. In early July, an appeals court ruled that Amazon should be considered a “seller” of goods under Pennsylvania products liability law and subject to strict liability … Continue Reading

Facebook Shielded by CDA Immunity against Federal Claims for Allowing Use of Its Platform by Terrorists

In recent years, there have been a number of suits filed in federal courts seeking to hold social media platforms responsible for providing material support to terrorists by allowing members of such groups to use social media accounts and failing to effectively block their content and terminate such accounts. As we’ve previously written about, such … Continue Reading

Locksmiths Locked Out: Court Affirms Immunity for Use of Tools That Portray Third-Party Content Pictorially or as an Aggregate Metric

In the past few months, there have been a number of notable decisions affirming broad immunity under the Communications Decency Act (CDA), 47 U.S.C. §230(c), for online providers that host third party content. The beat goes on, as in late May, a Utah district court ruled that the Tor Browser, which allows for anonymous communications … Continue Reading
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