A website that tracks and publishes requests files under the New Jersey Open Public Records Act won a major legal victory today after Superior Court Judge Ralph Paolone found a lawsuit holding them responsible for the contents of records released by public entities to the OPRAmachine website didn’t violate the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act
The legal action came after North Wildwood City Clerk W. Scott Jett released the social security numbers and other personal identifiers of police officers in an unredacted OPRA request they fulfilled.
Among those named in the lawsuit was Gavin Rozzi, the creator of OPRAmachine. His website acts as a third-party platform to file public records requests. In turn, the results of the OPRA request are publicly available.
The three police officers sued the city and OPRAmachine under the Identity Theft Protection Act as part f a class action lawsuit.
“This victory reinforces the crucial importance of Section 230 in protecting the rights of online platforms and their users,” Rozzi said in a statement. Without these protections, class action lawyers and powerful individuals could exploit the threat of baseless and costly litigation to suppress freedom of speech and destroy the ability of online platforms like OPRAmachine to operate.
Rozzi said the case “should have never been brought in the first place.”
“It’s exactly why people have lost trust in class action lawyers who are solely motivated by the promise of a big payout,” he said.
Rozzi explained that OPRAmachine, a free service, acts similarly to Google or Yahoo providing email addresses. He said that those companies should be liable just because their email addresses were used.
Paolone found that OPRAmachine and Rozzi were covered under a law that effectively immunizes them.