EFF tells federal appeals court: Google subpoena threatens online speech and innovation
Shortly thereafter, Google sought protection from a Mississippi federal court, asking the court to issue a preliminary injunction blocking the Attorney General from enforcing the subpoena. EFF filed an amicus brief—joined by the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), New America’s Open Technology Institute (OTI), Public Knowledge (PK), and R Street Institute—in support of Google, arguing that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) clearly protects hosts of Internet content from liability and burdensome discovery based on content generated by third-party users. The district court agreed with us and granted Google’s request for a preliminary injunction.
The Attorney General was unsatisfied with this result and appealed the district court’s order to the Fifth Circuit. EFF—again with CDT, OTI, PK, and R Street—filed a second amicus brief in support of Google, voicing our concern that allowing this type of abuse of investigatory powers by state officials would set a dangerous precedent. It would violate not only Section 230 of the CDA—which was intended by Congress to encourage the development of new communication technologies by shielding intermediaries from liability based on third-party content—but also the First Amendment. The First Amendment protects both the right of service providers to exercise editorial control over the third party content they host, and the right of Internet uses to receive and engage with such information online.