Filtering Companies Can’t Be Sued By Blacklisted Firms, Court Rules
David Kravets writes Threat Level:
A federal appeals court, in the first decision of its kind, said Thursday that companies providing malware, spyware and adware blocking services are immunized by the Communications Decency Act of 1996 from lawsuits claiming unfair business practices.
A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the CDA treats security software makers the same as internet service providers when they block material they find objectionable, granting them so-called “good Samaritan” immunity from civil lawsuits. Like an ISP, such companies provide an “interactive computer service” because they pull updates from a central server, the San Francisco-based appeals court said.
“We conclude that a provider of access tools that filter, screen, allow, or disallow content that a provider or user considers obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, or excessively violent, harassing or otherwise objectionable is protected from liability,” the court ruled. [.pdf].
The case concerned adware-maker Zango, which provided access to online videos, games, music, tools and utilities to web surfers who agreed to view advertisements while surfing the internet. Among other charges, the Washington State company accused Kaspersky Lab of illegally blocking a toolbar program that displayed links to advertisers.