In Doe v. Grindr, EPIC Urges Ninth Circuit to Continue Using Its Narrow, Nuanced Section 230 Approach

May 20, 2024

EPIC submitted an amicus brief in the case Doe v. Grindr on Friday, which involves the proper interpretation of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The case is a lawsuit against Grindr, a popular dating app for the LGBTQ+ community that has often come under fire for allegedly prioritizing profits over users’ privacy and safety.

The plaintiff, John Doe, is a teen who was raped by four adults he matched with through Grindr. Doe alleges, among other things, that Grindr’s app was defectively designed because, even after the company was repeatedly warned for years that adult predators were using the app to target children, it refused to implement safety features that would have allegedly prevented Doe’s assaults.

The district court dismissed Doe’s lawsuit based an a very broad interpretation of Section 230 that the Ninth Circuit has consistently rejected, so Doe appealed. EPIC’s brief seeks to counter common tech industry arguments that warn that a court’s refusal to give a tech company Section 230 protection will ruin the internet. While that may be true for the more narrow class of claims that should be prohibited by Section 230, it is not true for the wider class of claims that tech companies attempt to evade through Section 230. EPIC’s brief shows how the Ninth Circuit’s previous caselaw has recognized this reality and how the Ninth Circuit’s past refusals to expand Section 230’s scope have not harmed the quality of speech or innovation online.

EPIC regularly submits amicus briefs in cases involving platform governance and accountability, and recently asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Grindr’s privacy practices.

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