Thursday, August 29, 2013

Senders of texts to drivers could become liable for car crashes in NJ; reputation sundering could become a crime i CA (like NJ); maybe also CDA230 complications?

An appeals court in New Jersey has ruled that it is possible for someone who sends a text message to someone he or she know is driving to share legal liability for injuries or property damage from an accident.  CNN has the story, by Ben Brumfield and Chris Boyette, link here
However the court ruled that in the particular case the sender, who often sends large volumes of text, had no particular way to know the recipient was driving, even if the recipient answered. The plaintiffs had argued that the texter was in the car “electronically” but the court did not agree.
Theoretically, the concept would sound like it could apply to cell phone calls themselves.
CNN legal experts downplayed the practical importance of the ruling today on the New Day show.
In California, a state senator has introduced a bill to make posting Internet “revenge porn” a misdemeanor.  People lose jobs and are unable to find other ones when they are impersonated, or lewd pictures of them are plastered on the Internet.  To be an offense, the defendant (often a jilted lover) would have to show intent to inflict harm or emotional distress.
The San Jose Mercury News story is here.

The bill is SB255 and was proposed by Anthony Cannella, a Republican from Ceres. The only other state with such a law right now is New Jersey.  Could the concept extend to more extensive business reputation damage?  If so, the recent state attorneys' general proposal to take Section 230 downstream liability protections away from providers with respect to state criminal codes could become even more relevant, if states want to hold service providers as sharing criminal responsibility in these cases   
Pictures: random: Hoboken, NJ;  along I-5 north of San Diego CA (mine, from trips)

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