One other Court docket Rejects Turo’s Eligibility for Part 230-Turo v. Los Angeles

Want to Learn More About Section 230? A Guide to My Work

As I blogged before:

Turo is a peer-to-peer car rental marketplace. "Colloquially, Turo is the" Airbnb "of private vehicles." Although Turo doesn't dictate where buyers and sellers swap cars, Turo makes it easier to play in airports by leaving the car in the parking garage or delivering it by the roadside.

The last time I blogged about Turo, Logan Airport in Boston successfully closed it, even though Turo called Section 230 to cancel the airport regulations. In a recent decision, LAX Airport similarly overcomes Section 230's request to shut down Turo as well.

This is a fairly simple case after the HomeAway v Santa Monica judgment on the Ninth Circuit. The court says:

Consistent with its stake in, recent federal judgments across the country have also denied Section 230 immunity to platform services, where only the functions of the platforms have been regulated to facilitate commercial transactions.

Quoted to Airbnb v. Boston, State Farm v. Amazon, Oberdorf v. Amazon.

To circumvent HomeAway's negative precedent, Turo argued that regulation of peer-to-peer transactions forces Turo to verify its users' information. This argument is correct, but the HomeAway statement essentially rejected the same argument regarding Airbnb's responsibility to verify its landlords' licenses. The court then says that Turo can exclude LAX listings without further monitoring user content through geofencing:

Any obligation on Turo to "remove offensive content" could also "be met without making changes to the content published by the users of the website", for example by giving an owner the opportunity to rent a vehicle at an address (or with geographic coordinates) is eliminated primarily in the LAX exclusion area

Due to the nature of its service, Turo needs to “know” the geographic location of the vehicles in question. As a result, this type of geofencing is more practical for Turo than many other Internet services. In general, however, a Pandora box opens when Internet services are informed about problematic local regulations. Most services that lack geographic information and the stifling cost of navigating through the multitude of ever-changing local regulations are at odds with Section 230's efforts to lower entry barriers and compliance costs.

I keep seeing chatter in the DC echo chamber (a / k / a "Crazytown") that section 230 should be changed to reduce its applicability to online marketplaces. Anyone who takes this position publicly shows clear ignorance of how courts are already interpreting Section 230. The better F is: Do we even value peer-to-peer marketplaces like eBay? Because if we do, the deletion of section 230 for online marketplaces should be corrected and not celebrated.

Case quote: Turo v City of Los Angeles, 2020 WL 3422262 (C. D. Cal. June 19, 2020)


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