Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Considers Internet Service Provider’s Liability for Fake Profiles
By Ezra Pinsky – Edited by Dmitriy Tishyevich
Barnes v. Yahoo!, Inc., May 7, 2009, No. 05-36189.
On May 7th, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part a district court’s 12(b)(6) dismissal of a complaint which had sought to impose negligence liability on Yahoo for hosting a fraudulent personals profile created by the plaintiff’s ex-boyfriend, despite plaintiff’s requests that it be removed and Yahoo’s assurances that it would be. The district court dismissed the claim, holding that Section 230(c)(1) of the Communications Decency Act immunized Yahoo from liability. Writing for the Court of Appeals, Judge O’Scannlain affirmed in part, upholding the district court’s finding that Section 230(c)(1) protects Yahoo from negligence liability for third-party tortious material hosted on its website. However, the court reversed in part and remanded, holding that Section 230(c)(1) does not protect Yahoo from a promissory estoppel claim if they promised to remove such content but failed to follow through.
Marc Randazza of the Citizen Media Law Project and Daniel Solove of Concurring Opinions provide overviews of the decision. Eric Goldman of the Technology and Marketing Law Blog criticizes the opinion for being “filled with gratuitous and dangerous dicta, sloppy reasoning and sloppy language.” (more…)