Thursday, September 14, 2017
Ninth U.S. Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Action Against Facebook for Blocking Page in India
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Ninth U.S. Court of Appeals yesterday affirmed the dismissal of a civil rights action brought by Sikhs for Justice against Facebook for blocking its page in India.
The plaintiff alleges that Facebook acted “on its own or on the behest of the Government of India…because of discrimination against Plaintiff and Plaintiff’s members on the grounds of race, religion, ancestry, and national origin.” This, the organization asserts, violated Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as California statutes.
Through its page, the Sikhs for Justice (“SFJ”) orchestrated human rights campaigns, including advocacy of self- determination for the Sikh people in Punjab and opposing compulsory conversions of members of minority religions to Hinduism.
District Court Judge Lucy H. Koh of the Northern District of California on Nov. 13, 2015 dismissed the Title II action, with prejudice, while dismissing the state claims without prejudice. Koh relied on immunity for interactive computer service providers, set forth in §230 of the Communications Decency Act (“CDA”).
She said that the plaintiff insists that it simply wants an explanation from Facebook as to why it took its action. Koh wrote:
“…Plaintiff cites no authority requiring such relief. Rather, the CDA bars all claims that seek to hold an interactive computer service liable as a publisher of third-party content….Further, Plaintiff seeks not just an explanation for Defendant’s action, but damages and an injunction requiring Defendant to restore access to the SFJ Page in India….Accordingly, the Court finds that the CDA precludes Plaintiffs Title II claim.”
Yesterday’s Ninth Circuit decision says that Koh correctly applied the CDA. It declares:
“Moreover, we have found no authority, and SFJ fails to cite any authority, holding that Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides an exception to the immunity afforded to Facebook under the CDA.
“Because SFJ’s Title II claim is barred by the CDA, granting SFJ leave to amend its complaint would have been futile.”
The case is Sikhs for Justice, Inc. v. Facebook, Inc., 15-17441.
The memorandum opinion was signed by Circuit Judges Ronald Gould and Paul Watford, joined by Senior District Court Judge W. Louis Sand of the Middle District of Georgia, sitting by designation.
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