On November 13, 2015, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed a lawsuit by Sikhs for Justice Inc. (“SFJ”) asserting several causes of action against Facebook, Inc., including a federal claim of racial discrimination, for having allegedly blocked SFJ’s Facebook page in India without notice or explanation. Sikhs for Justice “SFJ”, Inc. v. Facebook, Inc., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 154716 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 13, 2015). According to SFJ, Facebook acted “on its own or on the behest of the Government of India” because of discrimination against SFJ and its members on the grounds of race, religion, ancestry, and national origin.
The court denied the claim pursuant to 47 U.S.C. 230, the federal Communications Decency Act. Its subsection (c)(1) states in pertinent part that “[n]o provider or user of an interactive computer service [“ICS”] shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” The court relied upon Ninth Circuit precedent for the proposition that subsection (c)(1) immunizes ICS removal of user content.
Notably, the court did not reference 47 U.S.C. 230, subsection (c)(2), which provides that “[n]o provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of– (A) any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material…” By relying upon subsection (c)(1), which does not require a finding of good faith, the court granted Facebook’s FRCP 12(b)(6) motion.