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Internet Association Files Amicus Brief With California Supreme Court In Support Of Intermediary Liability Protections

BECKERMAN: “Protecting users’ right to free speech online is essential to preserving a dynamic economy, a free and open internet, and our First Amendment rights.”


Washington, DC – Today, Internet Association, along with the Consumer Technology Association, filed an amicus brief with the California Supreme Court in Hassel v. Bird in support of Yelp and other online platforms and service providers. The brief endorses arguments made by Yelp, and offers a robust defense of intermediary liability protections that are critical to the existence of all online platforms.

The brief urges the California Supreme Court to overturn the lower court’s ruling, which currently stands in violation of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA), and would chill free speech and public expression online if upheld. Section 230 is a cornerstone of intermediary liability protection as it exempts online platforms from being held liable for user-generated content posted to their websites. Without these legal protections, open platforms would be forced to police their users, severely curtailing free expression online.

“There are few things more important to the historic and continued success of the internet than the intermediary liability protections enshrined in CDA 230,” said Michael Beckerman, President and CEO of Internet Association. “Protecting users’ right to free speech online is essential to preserving a dynamic economy, a free and open internet, and our First Amendment rights.”

The online platforms protected under Section 230 of the CDA provide for the common good by enabling public expression under the First Amendment. Internet Association’s brief advocates for the free flow of information, which enables commerce and furthers political discussion. A ruling circumventing Section 230 would effectively annul protections to online platforms and open a floodgate for abusive litigation that could force many websites to shut down entirely.

In large part thanks to the CDA, the internet sector contributes 6 percent to GDP and nearly 3 million jobs. Without these protections, that growth would not have been possible.

From the brief:

“Online platforms that thrive under the protection of the CDA’s immunities facilitate important activities among third-party consumers and businesses including the exchange of information, communications and commercial transactions. They connect customers with other providers of goods, services and information. In the overwhelming majority of cases, a platform does not have any special relationship with providers of information or other users that would give rise to liability under traditional principles: there is no partnership, and no employment or agency relationship; the platform is not itself a party to any particular transaction; and it does not control the actions of parties to a transaction and lacks any practical ability to do so. The CDA immunities have been critical to the growth and sustainability of these platforms.”

Click here to read the full brief.