Federal, State Agencies File an Amicus Brief Opposing a Sweeping Interpretation of Section 230

On October 14, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and North Carolina Department of Justice filed a joint amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in the case of Henderson v. The Source for Public Data, L.P.  The case concerns a background check company which allegedly violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by including inaccurate criminal information in background check reports compiled from public sources. In response, the defendant argued that it was an “interactive computer service” and since the information was gathered from public sources, it was immune from all liability under the FCRA due to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Section 230 provides online platforms with broad immunities for third-party content they publish. The District Court found for the defendant and the case is currently on appeal with the Fourth Circuit. The amicus brief supports the plaintiffs, arguing that the court’s decision “misconstrues Section 230 by extending immunity to claims that do not seek to treat the defendant as the publisher or speaker of any third-party information.” In a statement, FTC Chair Lina M. Khan and CFPB Director Rohit Chopra expressed concerns over efforts undermine fair competition by circumventing consumer and banking laws by using Section 230. Read more here and the amicus brief here.

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