Ninth Circuit Faces Tech Giants’ Immunity Plea in Gambling App Lawsuits

Whether digital giants Apple, Meta (previously Facebook), and Google may assert legal immunity in cases pertaining to suspected unlawful gambling applications on their platforms is a crucial legal dispute that the Ninth Circuit is about to decide on.

The verdict of a federal judge is being contested by plaintiffs in three distinct actions, who are contesting the protection afforded by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. They contend that the platforms shouldn’t be granted protection while handling payments for illegal gaming.

Judge’s Call for Review

Acknowledging the immunity granted, U.S. District Judge Edward Davila has sought a review by the Ninth Circuit, pausing the case pending their decision. Plaintiffs appeal, disputing the platforms’ entitlement to immunity in this context.

During oral arguments, attorneys representing the tech giants reiterated support for Judge Davila’s decision. They emphasized that the platforms’ publication of content like virtual gaming chips does not constitute unlawful behavior.

Fred Reilly, representing Google, cited legal precedent, asserting that platforms have broad discretion in regulating published content. Attorney Todd Logan, representing the plaintiffs, argued against immunity, highlighting previous Ninth Circuit rulings.

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During the hearing, U.S. District Judge Sidney Fitzwater was joined by U.S. Circuit Judges Richard Paez and Jennifer Sung, who asked pointed questions. They did not provide a deadline for their decision, but their questions suggested a thorough analysis of the matter.

Apple’s Mark Perry questioned whether it would be possible to control illegal gambling on social media. He emphasized the logistical difficulties associated with keeping track of transactions across platforms that are used by billions of people.

The Ninth Circuit’s final decision on the matter of tech companies’ immunity from lawsuits involving gambling apps is still up in the air amid legal wrangling and sophisticated arguments.

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