WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and North Carolina Department of Justice filed an amicus brief in support of the consumer plaintiffs in Henderson v. The Source for Public Data, L.P. The case is currently on appeal before the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. The plaintiffs allege The Source for Public Data is a consumer reporting agency that uses the internet to obtain public records and assemble them into consumer background check reports for its customers. The district court ruled The Source for Public Data could not be held liable for violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act’s (FCRA’s) procedural requirements when disseminating consumer reports that included false, incorrect, or misleading consumer information because the plaintiffs’ FCRA claims treat The Source for Public Data as a publisher and speaker of third-party information and are therefore barred under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The CFPB, and its partners, contend that Section 230 does not apply to the plaintiffs’ claims because they challenge The Source for Public Data’s failure to abide by the FCRA’s procedural requirements when it disseminated its own reports.
“This case highlights a dangerous argument that could be used by market participants to sidestep laws expressly designed to cover them. Across the economy such a perspective would lead to a cascade of harmful consequences,” said CFPB Director Rohit Chopra and FTC Chair Lina M. Khan in a joint statement. “As tech companies expand into a range of markets, they will need to follow the same laws that apply to other market participants. The CFPB and FTC will be closely scrutinizing tech companies’ efforts to use Section 230 to sidestep applicable laws and will seek to ensure that this legal shield is not being used or abused to gain an undue competitive advantage over law-abiding businesses.”
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is a 21st century agency that helps consumer finance markets work by making rules more effective, by consistently and fairly enforcing those rules, and by empowering consumers to take more control over their economic lives. For more information, visit www.consumerfinance.gov.