Twitter Asks Judge To Dismiss Devin Nunes' Frivolous Lawsuit Via Section 230

from the expect-nunes-to-join-the-anti-230-crowd dept

It's kind of incredible that Devin Nunes' first frivolous, censorial lawsuit is still going on -- but it is. This is the one against two satirical Twitter accounts that made fun of Nunes, as well as political strategist Liz Mair and Twitter the company itself. Twitter had tried to get the case dismissed on jurisdictional grounds, saying the case belonged in California, but that failed. Now Twitter has played the next obvious card: saying that Section 230 of the CDA prevents Nunes from suing it over the satirical accounts. Tragically, the Fresno Bee has not posted the actual legal filings, and they're in a state court that does not make them easily accessible to the public, so I don't have the full filing yet. Update: The filing is here and embedded below. However, from the Fresno Bee's account, it appears that Twitter is making a pretty typical CDA 230 argument:

“Congress granted providers of online platforms like Twitter broad immunity from claims that seek to hold them liable for harms caused by defamatory or otherwise harmful content that appeared on the provider’s platform but were created by third parties,” the motion to dismiss reads. “(The law) protects such providers not only from liability but also from being subjected to the burdens of discovery or other aspects of litigation.”

The federal law referenced specifically states that no providers of an “interactive computer service” should be treated as “the publisher or speaker” of things said by a third party on their platform.

The filing highlights that the negligence claim against Twitter is really just an attempt to route around 230:

“The sole claim (Nunes) asserts against Twitter — for negligence — rests entirely on the theory that Twitter did not prevent third parties from posting the statements on the Twitter platform and/or did not do enough to remove the statements after they were posted,” Twitter’s new motion reads.

If the judge in the case actually understands Section 230, this should be an easy dismissal for Twitter. However, to date, the judge has made a series of perplexing decisions that seem to go against most understanding on other laws. That doesn't mean he won't eventually dismiss the case, but it might make folks worry that this judge is more inclined than he should be to let the case move forward for the time being.

Of course, assuming the judge actually does dismiss the claims against Twitter on 230 grounds, I fully expect, Rep. Devin Nunes to join the chorus of clueless elected officials seeking to end Section 230.

Filed Under: devin cow, devin nunes, free speech, intermediary liability, section 230
Companies: twitter


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  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 24 Jan 2020 @ 12:10pm

    Quick reminders vis-á-vis 47 U.S.C. § 230:

    1. Without 230, a vast portion of the Internet wouldn’t even exist.

    2. 230 puts liability where it belongs: on the people responsible for the speech.

    3. 230 doesn't protect a platform from liability in re: any speech for which the platform is directly responsible.

    4. 230 has no “neutrality” provision.

    5. 230 helps facilitate the sharing of speech on third party platforms; the First Amendment gives you the right to share that speech in the first place.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 24 Jan 2020 @ 12:27pm

      'The light's better over here you see.'

      Number two in that list is probably the biggest flaw in the argument of those trying to argue against 230, as what they are really arguing is that people/platforms should be responsible for speech that they didn't make.

      When you point out that all 230 really does is make it so you have to go after the actual guilty party rather than just the easiest/richest target the arguments kinda fall to pieces, especially if the one making it is a fan of that 'personal responsibility' thing that gets brought up every so often.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2020 @ 12:27pm

      Re:

      And just in case anyone is confused about what the law actually says, you can see it here and I have copied it below:

      (c)Protection for “Good Samaritan” blocking and screening of offensive material
      (1)Treatment of publisher or speaker
      No 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.

      (2)Civil liability
      No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of—
      (A)any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected; or
      (B)any action taken to enable or make available to information content providers or others the technical means to restrict access to material described in paragraph (1).[1]

      (e)Effect on other laws
      (1)No effect on criminal law
      Nothing in this section shall be construed to impair the enforcement of section 223 or 231 of this title, chapter 71 (relating to obscenity) or 110 (relating to sexual exploitation of children) of title 18, or any other Federal criminal statute.

      (2)No effect on intellectual property law
      Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit or expand any law pertaining to intellectual property.

      (3)State law
      Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent any State from enforcing any State law that is consistent with this section. No cause of action may be brought and no liability may be imposed under any State or local law that is inconsistent with this section.

      (4)No effect on communications privacy law
      Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit the application of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 or any of the amendments made by such Act, or any similar State law.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Toom1275 (profile), 24 Jan 2020 @ 1:51pm

      Re:

      230 has no “neutrality” provision.

      Not is there any rational reason why it should.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    neost (profile), 24 Jan 2020 @ 12:21pm

    There is no drawback to a company requiring a non-disparagement clause even if it is illegal.

    Most people don't know that it is illegal and will acquiesce simply to get their refund. If they do disregard the non-disparagement clause these companies have scary lawyers to try to beat people into submission with legalese.

    I recently left a company I had worked for many years, and as a condition of receiving severance I was required to sign a non-disparagement agreement. I did, simply because I needed/wanted the severance pay and it was far easier than fighting. This company has been written about many times on this web site, and even though I know the non-disparagement clause is illegal I refrain from commenting, simply because I don't want the hassle involved if they should get wind of it and try to claw back any part of my severance.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      neost (profile), 24 Jan 2020 @ 12:22pm

      Re:

      sorry, i thought i was commenting on the previous article about SmileDirect. not sure how I got here.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Jan 2020 @ 2:59pm

      Re:

      There is no drawback to a company requiring a non-disparagement clause even if it is illegal.

      It's unethical (in my opinion) to knowingly include illegal/misleading/unenforceable terms in a contract. I guess, however, if the company is already at that point, they aren't particularly concerned with ethics anyway.

      I recently left a company I had worked for many years, and as a condition of receiving severance I was required to sign a non-disparagement agreement. I did, simply because I needed/wanted the severance pay and it was far easier than fighting

      A non-disparagement clause in a severance agreement is not the same thing as a non-disparagement clause in a consumer's product usage/refund contract. That said, I haven't read the Consumer Review Fairness Act so I don't know if the language of the law would also cover severance agreements.

      I get what you're saying though - I signed a similar severance agreement with a former employer, but I'm less worried about repercussions if I say something bad because that company is so reviled in its industry that I don't think I could possibly say anything that would make people think less of them.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), 24 Jan 2020 @ 12:50pm

    MTD added

    By the way, when I published, I didn't yet have the filing, but have since obtained it and added it to the story.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2020 @ 12:59pm

    Nunes illegally using government funding for his legal cases and the Judge doesn't want to let him off?

    Essentially his career as a politician is OVER once this type of crap comes out. That and you can't vote in the Senate from prison.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2020 @ 3:01pm

    It’s sad to see how far a man can fall.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2020 @ 3:02pm

    🐄:moooooo...
    🐑:baaa....
    Nunes: I KNOW YOUR A PART OF IT TOO!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    Marsha (profile), 25 Jan 2020 @ 3:11am

    Social media giant Twitter on Friday asked a Virginia judge to dismiss a defamation lawsuit filed by California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, arguing the company has no operations in the state and Nunes’ complaint cannot be considered there https://www.myprepaidcenter.pro

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    Jeans KIaan (profile), 25 Jan 2020 @ 5:23pm

    I GOT HELP

    Look he's real I have confirmed it, contact (wisetechhacker@gmail. com) for your hack issues ranging from bank hacks, University Grades change, Email and phone hack for text, whatsapp imessages, call logs,Gps tracking and lots more. He provides proof and he's affordable trust me he's real. His name is Williams computer Engineer

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 25 Jan 2020 @ 10:17pm

      Like paying for a billboard of 'Please investigate/arrest me.'

      I get spamming for garbage products or services, but spamming for illegal services? Talk about stacking idiocy atop annoyance...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Jan 2020 @ 9:18pm

    Devin Devin devin..

    What guidance do the lost know?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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