Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Case That Threatened CDA 230

from the good-news! dept

As we noted earlier this year, the California Supreme Court wisely sided with Yelp in a legal fight over whether or not the company could be forced to remove reviews based on another legal dispute of which Yelp was not a party. The crux of the case was about Section 230 of the CDA. As we detailed back in 2016, a lower court had initially ordered Yelp to take down a review that the court found to be defamatory (though, it was on default judgment as the defendant in the case decided to not show up in court). The case was brought by a lawyer, Dawn Hassell, who sued a former client, Ava Bird, claiming that Bird had posted a negative review of Hassell's legal work. Bird then ignored the lawsuit, leading to the default judgment -- all of which is fine. But then the court issued an injunction against Yelp, ordering it to take down the review, despite Yelp not even being a party to the lawsuit.

The California Supreme Court properly ruled that the injunction should be thrown out, based on CDA 230, which (as we've discussed over and over again) says that an internet service provider (such as Yelp) cannot be held liable due to the speech of a user (such as Ava Bird). This was a pretty standard and "easy" ruling on CDA 230, and the court had many cases to cite. And thus, it's good news that the US Supreme Court has denied Hassell's cert petition to hear the case -- meaning the California ruling stands. It shouldn't be a surprise that the Supreme Court decided not to hear the case, as there is widespread agreement that this is exactly how CDA 230 is meant to work and it's how basically every circuit that has ruled on this issue has found, sot here's no circuit split to deal with. Having the Supreme Court refuse to hear a case isn't always newsworthy, but it's at least a bit of a relief that the court apparently didn't think this one was an issue worth reconsidering. The internet and the services we all use, remain protected... for now.

Filed Under: ava bird, california, cda 230, dawn hassell, free speech, hassell v bird, intermediary liability, reviews, section 230, supreme court
Companies: yelp


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jan 2019 @ 3:57pm

    Re:

    The Supreme Court will knock Section 230 down once they want to. They're just waiting for the internet to be built out until it does. If they wanted to uphold 230 they would have done so already.

    That the court has not simply affirmed 230 is the key here.

    230 is being used by cybercriminals as a sword rather than a shield. Generally, the rich and powerful pay the judgment-proof or those who can't be sued from other countries to defame their enemies, then they pay others to link to the defamation as if it were all third parties when in fact it's just a big mafia using libel to silence their critics.

    The lawyers also set up people with hot tempers to repeat what is said on these defamatory sites, then the lawyers rush in to defend the people they set up, either draining the bank accounts if they are rich, or crowdfunding the lawsuits in the name of "free speech" if they are poor. It's a racket that the feds are well aware of and are going to take down at some point. When they do, it will be an earthquake in the legal profession.

    The Aspie/4Chan crowd here is deliberately ignoring this but those with real power are not.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Techdirt Logo Gear
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.