Articles Posted in Communications Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of an action against Twitter, seeking civil remedies under the Anti-Terrorism Act. Plaintiffs filed suit against Twitter under 18 U.S.C. 2333(a), the civil remedies provision of the ATA, alleging that they were injured "by reason of" Twitter's knowing provision of material support to ISIS. The panel held that plaintiffs have not pleaded that Twitter's provision of accounts and messaging services to ISIS had any direct relation to the injuries plaintiffs suffered. The panel declined to reach the second question presented: whether Section 230 of Communications Decency Act of 1996 protects Twitter from liability. View "Fields v. Twitter, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of claims brought by plaintiff under Washington state law, seeking compensation for telecommunications services it provided to AT&T and Verizon. In this case, plaintiff had neither a tariff nor a contract in place during a six-month period in which it provided telecommunications services to AT&T and Verizon. The panel held that plaintiff was subject to the tariff-filing requirements of Section 203 of the Communications Act, 47 U.S.C. 203, because it did not have a negotiated agreement, and plaintiff's state law equitable claims were preempted under Section 203. Finally, plaintiff failed to state a claim under the Washington Consumer Protection Act. View "CallerID4u, Inc. v. MCI Communications Services, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Communications Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants in a class action under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), 47 U.S.C. 227. In this case, plaintiff received a text message from AC Referral, a non-party, that violated the TCPA. Plaintiff claimed that three lenders and two marketing companies ratified the unlawful text messages. The panel held that, although one of the marketing companies, Click Media, had an agency relationship with AC Referral, it was not bound by AC Referral's acts because it lacked knowledge that AC Referral was violating the TCPA and did not have knowledge of facts that would have led a reasonable person to investigate further. Therefore, Click Media could not be deemed to have ratified AC Referral's actions and was not vicariously liable. View "Kristensen v. Credit Payment Services" on Justia Law

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A liability insurance policy that unequivocally and broadly excludes coverage for invasion of privacy claims also excludes coverage for Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) claims. After Federal denied insurance coverage and declined to defend the Lakers in an underlying suit for invasion of privacy, the Lakers filed suit against Federal for breach of contract and tortious breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the suit under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The panel held that a TCPA claim was inherently an invasion of privacy claim and thus Federal correctly concluded that the underlying TCPA claim fell under the insurance policy's broad exclusionary clause. In this case, Federal did not breach the policy, or the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, under any cognizable legal theory, when it declined to defend against or cover the underlying complaint. View "LA Lakers v. Federal Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against Royal under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), 47 U.S.C. 227, seeking to hold Royal vicariously liable for several telephone calls made by telemarketers employed by AAAP. The Ninth Circuit applied the ten non-exhaustive factors set forth in the Restatement (Second) of Agency 220(2) (1958), and found that AAAP's telemarketers were acting as independent contractors rather than as Royal's agents. Therefore, the court held that Royal was not vicariously liable for the telephone calls and the district court properly granted summary judgment in favor of Royal. View "Jones v. Royal Administration Services" on Justia Law

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A City of Berkeley ordinance required cell phone retailers to inform prospective cell phone purchasers that carrying a cell phone in certain ways may cause them to exceed Federal Communications Commission guidelines for exposure to radio-frequency radiation. CTIA, a trade association, challenged the ordinance on two grounds: (1) the ordinance violated the First Amendment; and (2) the ordinance was preempted. CTIA requested a preliminary injunction staying enforcement of the ordinance. The district court denied CTIA’s request, and CTIA filed an interlocutory appeal. Finding no reversible error, the Ninth Circuit affirmed. View "CTIA Witeless Ass'n v. City of Berkeley" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a putative class action alleging that defendants sent unauthorized text messages in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA), 47 U.S.C. 227; California Business and Professions Code 17538.41; and California Business and Professions Code 17200. The district court granted summary judgment to defendants. As a preliminary matter, the court concluded that plaintiff has Article III standing under Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins because plaintiff established a concrete injury-in-fact. On the merits, the court concluded that the FCC has established no rule that a consumer who gives a phone number to a company has consented to be contacted for any reason. Instead, FCC orders and rulings show that the transactional context matters in determining the scope of a consumer’s consent to contact. In this case, the court held that as a matter of law plaintiff gave prior express consent to receive defendants’ text messages where he gave his cell phone number for the purpose of a gym membership contract. Revocation of consent must be clearly made and express a desire not to be called or texted. The court joined its sister circuits and agreed that the TCPA permits consumers to revoke their prior express consent to be contacted by telephone autodialing systems. Here, the court held that, although consumers may revoke their prior express consent, plaintiff's gym cancellation was not effective in doing so here. Finally, the court concluded that plaintiff lacked standing to bring his claim under the California Business and Professions Code. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Van Patten v. Vertical Fitness Group" on Justia Law

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Dr. Lawrence P. Rudolph filed suit against SCI after various SCI members accused him of official misconduct, stripped him of his awards, and kicked him out of the association. Rudolph surreptitiously recorded a conversation with his friend John Whipple, SCI's president, and posted it on YouTube to exonerate himself. Whipple and SCI filed numerous claims against Rudolph, including statutory invasion of privacy, negligence per se, and common law invasion of privacy. The district court granted Rudolph’s motion to strike under California’s anti-SLAPP statute, Cal. Civ. Proc. Code 425.16, as to four claims, but denied relief as to three claims. Rudolph appeals. The court concluded that the district court correctly denied Rudolph's motion as to the claims for violation of California Penal Code section 632, negligence per se, and common law invasion of privacy. In this case, although Rudolph can show that those claims arise from activity he took in furtherance of his right to free speech, plaintiffs can show a reasonable probability of prevailing on each of the challenged claims. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment; denied Rudolph's corresponding request for an additional attorney fee award; and remanded for further proceedings. View "Safari Club International v. Rudolph" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, owner of a locksmith business, filed suit against Yelp, alleging that Yelp is responsible for causing a review from another site to appear on its page, providing a star-rating function that transforms user reviews into Yelp’s own content, and “caus[ing] [the statements] to appear” as a promotion on Google’s search engine. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA), 47 U.S.C. 230(c), “immunizes providers of interactive computer services against liability arising from content created by third parties.” In this case, the threadbare allegations of fabrication of statements are implausible on their face and are insufficient to avoid immunity under the CDA. The court also concluded that Yelp’s rating system, which is based on rating inputs from third parties and which reduces this information into a single, aggregate metric is user-generated data. Nor do plaintiff's arguments that Yelp can be held liable for “republishing” the same content as advertisements or promotions on Google survive close scrutiny. The court concluded that, just as Yelp is immune from liability under the CDA for posting user-generated content on its own website, Yelp is not liable for disseminating the same content in essentially the same format to a search engine, as this action does not change the origin of the third-party content. The court noted that proliferation and dissemination of content does not equal creation or development of content. View "Kimzey v. Yelp!" on Justia Law

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The FTC filed suit against AT&T under section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act (FTA), 15 U.S.C. 45(a), taking issue with the adequacy of AT&T’s disclosures regarding its data throttling program. The district court denied AT&T's motion to dismiss and rejected it's view of the common carrier exemption. The court concluded, however, that the common carrier exemption in section 5 of the FTC Act carves out a group of entities based on their status as common carriers. Those entities are not covered by section 5 even as to non-common carrier activities. Because AT&T was a common carrier, it cannot be liable for the violations alleged by the FTC. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "FTC v. AT&T Mobility" on Justia Law