Chi ritweetta un post lesivo è coperto dal safe harbour ex § 230 CDA? Pare di si

La Corte Suprema del New Hampshire, opinion 11.05.2022, Hillsborough-northern judicial district No. 2020-0496 , Banaian c. Bascom et aa., affronta il tema e risponde positivamente.

In una scuola situata a nord di Boston, uno studente aveva hackerato il sito della scuola e aveva inserito post offensivi, suggerenti che una docente fosse  “sexually pe[r]verted and desirous of seeking sexual liaisons with Merrimack Valley students and their parents.”

Altro studente tweetta il post e altri poi ritweettano (“ritwittano”, secondo Treccani) il primo tweet.

La docente agisce verso i retweeters , i quali però eccepiscono il safe harbour ex § 230.c)  CDA.  Disposizione che così recita:

<<c) Protection for “Good Samaritan” blocking and screening of offensive material.

(1) Treatment of publisher or speaker

No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.>>.

La questione giuridica è se nel concetto di user rientrino gli alunni del caso  sub iudice.

La SC conferma che è così. Del resto sarebbe assai difficile ragionare diversamente.

Precisamente: << We are persuaded by the reasoning set forth in these cases. The plaintiff identifies no case law that supports a contrary result. Rather, the plaintiff argues that because the text of the statute is ambiguous, the title of section 230(c) — “Protection for ‘Good Samaritan’ blocking and screening of offensive material” — should be used to resolve the ambiguity. We disagree, however, that the term “user” in the text of section 230 is ambiguous. See Webster’s Third New International Dictionary 2524 (unabridged ed. 2002) (defining “user” to mean “one that uses”); American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language 1908 (5th ed. 2011) (defining “user” to mean “[o]ne who uses a computer, computer program, or online service”). “[H]eadings and titles are not meant to take the place of the detailed provisions of the text”; hence, “the wise rule that the title of a statute and the heading of a section cannot limit the plain meaning of the text.” Brotherhood of R.R. Trainmen v. Baltimore & O.R. Co., 331 U.S. 519, 528-29 (1947). Likewise, to the extent the plaintiff asserts that the legislative history of section 230 compels the conclusion that Congress did not intend “users” to refer to individual users, we do not consider legislative history to construe a statute which is clear on its face. See Adkins v. Silverman, 899 F.3d 395, 403 (5th Cir. 2018) (explaining that “where a statute’s text is clear, courts should not resort to legislative history”).

Despite the plaintiff’s assertion to the contrary, we conclude that it is evident that section 230 of the CDA abrogates the common law of defamation as applied to individual users. The CDA provides that “[n]o cause of action may be brought and no liability may be imposed under any State or local law that is inconsistent with this section.” 47 U.S.C. § 230(e)(3). We agree with the trial court that the statute’s plain language confers immunity from suit upon users and that “Congress chose to immunize all users who repost[] the content of others.” That individual users are immunized from claims of defamation for retweeting content that they did not create is evident from the statutory language. See Zeran v. America Online, Inc., 129 F.3d 327, 334 (4th Cir. 1997) (explaining that the language of section 230 makes “plain that Congress’ desire to promote unfettered speech on the Internet must supersede conflicting common law causes of action”).
We hold that the retweeter defendants are “user[s] of an interactive computer service” under section 230(c)(1) of the CDA, and thus the plaintiff’s claims against them are barred. See 47 U.S.C. § 230(e)(3). Accordingly, we  uphold the trial court’s granting of the motions to dismiss because the factspled in the plaintiff’s complaint do not constitute a basis for legal relief.

(notizia della e link alla sentenza dal blog del prof. Eric Goldman)