Several months after the Republican National Committee (RNC) filed a lawsuit against Google over reportedly applying spam filters that promoted political bias, the case is officially closed (via The Washington Post).
A federal judge has now dismissed what was called a “close case” because “the RNC [had] not sufficiently pled that Google acted in bad faith in filtering the RNC’s messages into Gmail users’ spam folders.”
The US District Judge, Daniel J. Calabretta, also noted that Gmail’s use of spam filtering is protected by section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
Gmail lawsuit dismissed
Section 230 protects “interactive computer service providers,” like Gmail, from lawsuits relating to decisions to block and screen offensive material. While many have called for clearer guidance and even the rewriting of this section from the Telecommunications Act of 1996, including Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, in this instance, it served to protect the email provider.
Despite earlier claims that there was indeed no bias and requests to dismiss the case, Google did launch a pilot scheme to allow political parties to opt in to bypass filters and deliver emails straight to Gmail users’ inboxes.
The scheme was introduced in time for the 2022 US election period, but the plug was pulled just a few months later. It was also reported that the RNC did not sign up to take part in the program.
Earlier this year, Google’s José Castañeda told TechRadar Pro: “We will keep investing in spam-filtering technologies that protect people from unwanted messages while still allowing senders to reach the inboxes of users who want to see those messages.”
We asked Castañeda to comment on the result of the case. We also gave the RNC an opportunity to provide feedback, but neither has responded as yet.