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Parent suit against MySpace dismissed

Negligence suit rejected because federal Communications Decency Act provides 'interactive services' with immunity for user-posted content.
Written by ZDNET Editors, Contributor on

A suit brought by the family of a teenage girl who was sexually assaulted by someone she met on MySpace has been dismissed by a federal court, reports Reuters News Service.

Judge Sam Sparks of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas granted MySpace's motion to dismiss the charges of negligence, fraud and negligent misrepresentation.

In dismissing the suit, Judge Sparks said that as an "interactive service," MySpace was protected from materials posted on its site by the Communications Decency Act (CDA) of 1996. Sparks explained that the CDA is aimed at allowing Internet and other interactive services to continue to develop.

"To ensure that Web site operators and other interactive computer services would not be crippled by lawsuits arising out of third party communications, the Act provides interactive computer services with immunity," Sparks' ruling said.

Lawyers representing the family, said they planned to appeal the dismissal of the negligence charge and to refile charges of fraud and misrepresentation in a different court "in the very near future."

MySpace has been criticized by family advocate groups for failing to not provide adequate safeguards such as age verification rules to protect its large group of teen users.

MySpace has a number of lawsuits pending related to sexual predators. This ruling could be "persuasive" to the remaining suits, which were filed in state court, said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond.

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