This is one of several cases seeking to hold Internet platforms civilly liable under US statutes barring material support of terrorism. The first instance court rejected plaintiff’s claim on several grounds, including Twitter’s intermediary immunity under Communications Decency Act Section 230 (CDA 230). On appeal, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal rejected plaintiff’s claims without reaching the CDA 230 issues. It based its analysis on the causation requirement of the civil material support statute.
Material support claims raise a few questions under CDA 230 -- none entirely novel, but all important. One is whether the existence of a federal criminal statute on material support means that plaintiffs’ federal civil claims -- which would otherwise be barred by CDA 230 -- somehow fit in under the statute’s exemption for federal criminal claims. Another is whether the provision of accounts is sufficiently far afield from speech or publication to fall outside CDA 230.
Santa Clara Law Professor Eric Goldman’s Technology and Marketing Blog contains valuable updates on material support cases.