Tyrone Henderson, Sr. v. The Source for Public Data, L.P., No. 21-1678 (4th Cir. 2022)Annotate this Case
Defendants are The Source of Public Data, L.P.; ShadowSoft, Inc.; HarlingtonStraker Studio, Inc.; and D.B. (collectively “Public Data”). Plaintiffs’ allegation that all Defendants are alter egos jointly responsible for any Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) liability arising from the business activities conducted on PublicData.com. Public Data sought Section 230(c)(1) protection against four claims brought against it for violating the FCRA. The district court agreed that the claims were precluded by Section 230(c)(1). Plaintiffs appealed, arguing that Section 230(c)(1) does not apply.
The Fourth Circuit reversed the district court’s ruling. THe court explained that Section 230(c)(1) provides protection to interactive computer services. But it does not insulate a company from liability for all conduct that happens to be transmitted through the internet. Instead, protection under Section 230(c)(1) extends only to bar certain claims, in specific circumstances, against particular types of parties. Here, the district court erred by finding that Section 230(c)(1) barred all counts asserted against Public Data. To the contrary, on the facts as alleged, it does not apply to any of them. Counts One and Three are not barred because they do not seek to hold Public Data liable as a publisher under the provision. Counts Two and Four are not barred because Public Data is itself an information content provider for the information relevant to those counts.