Apple, Facebook parent Meta and Google are urging a federal judge to dismiss class-action complaints claiming they distribute and profit from “addictive” gambling apps.
The companies argue in papers filed Friday that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects them from liability for material created by outside developers.
The lawsuit's claims “fall within the heartland of immunity Congress granted to online platform providers under Section 230,” Google writes in a motion filed with U.S. District Court Judge Edward Davila in the Northern District of California. That law generally immunizes companies from liability over third parties' activity on the platform.
Meta and Apple make similar arguments in their motions, also filed Friday with Davila.
The tech companies' new papers come in response to lawsuits accusing them of promoting illegal gambling by distributing gambling apps, allowing users to make in-app purchases of virtual currency, and garnering a percentage of revenue.
“In exchange for promoting and distributing ... casino games, providing them valuable data and insight about their players, and collecting money from consumers, Google (and the other platforms) take a 30 percent commission off of every wager, earning them billions in revenue,” the complaint against Google alleges.
Complaints against Apple and Facebook include nearly identical language.
The plaintiffs allege that they lost money by using “addictive” gambling apps distributed through the tech companies, and are seeking restitution and other monetary damages.
Google, Apple and Facebook counter that Section 230 immunizes them from distributing content created by other companies.
“All of the claims in this case seek to hold Meta liable for third-party content (consisting of allegedly unlawful casino-themed video games) developed by third parties and made available on the Facebook platform,” Facebook writes. “Because each element of Section 230 is established here, this court should dismiss the complaint.”
Google and Apple make the same argument, though with slightly different wording.
The tech companies also say the alleged revenue-sharing agreements don't strip them of the protection of Section 230.
“There is no 'for-profit exception to Section 230's broad grant of immunity,'” Google writes in its motion, quoting from a prior court decision.
Facebook adds that Section 230 previously protected Google from a lawsuit over pay-per-click search ads -- created through its platform -- that directed people to a fraudulent site.
Davila is expected to hold a hearing in the matter on August 4.