Jun 022018
 June 2, 2018  Posted by  Business, Court

From the good folks at EPIC.org:

EPIC has filed an amicus brief in a case about whether a dating app should be liable for failing to remove false profiles, including name and likeness, that posed a danger to personal safety. In Herrick v. Grindr, LLC, EPIC told the Second Circuit Court of Appeals that Section 230, a provision in the Communication Decency Act, was intended to “encourage internet service providers to police their platforms,” not to “give platforms carte blanche to ignore harassment and abuse.” EPIC emphasized that a lower court opinion “would not advance the speech-promoting policy of the statute.” EPIC explained that victims may be subjected to ongoing “psychological, social, and financial harm” if Internet services are not accountable for harassment and abuse. EPIC frequently participates as amicus curiae in cases concerning emerging privacy and civil liberties issues, including hiQ Labs v. LinkedIn and Eichenberger v. ESPN.

It seems to me that the issue, and EPIC’s position, are quite similar to the issue this site raised about IMDb on behalf of a teen who claimed that he had been “doxed” by a former friend and that he was being harmed by having false information combined with his real name and location on IMDb’s site.

When I had mentioned the complaint this site had filed with the FTC and the teen’s state attorney general,  attorney Cathy Gellis suggested we might be on opposite sides of the controversy, because Section 230 immunized IMDb from user-uploaded content, and my complaint really boiled down to my disagreement with their judgement as to whether to remove content or not. And that, she argued was a First Amendment issue.

But like EPIC, I viewed – and view Section 230 through the lens that it is not a carte blanche for platforms to ignore complaints of harassment, abuse, or harm. The idea, as I understood it, was to promote self-monitoring, not to deprive consumers of all rights of redress.

Which is all a longish way of saying that I am glad to see EPIC take the position it has taken.  And if they would like to file a supplemental complaint with the FTC against IMDb in the matter we raised, I’d be happy to share the complaint and our files with them, because even though IMDb did remove the problematic page after hearing from the state attorney general’s office, they did not agree to review their procedures for investigating and fixing errors, leaving other consumers still at risk of harm.

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