From Inman News comes the following:
Roommate.com LLC, a company that operates a Web site that matches people with rooms to rent with tenants, may have violated fair housing laws by requiring users to disclose their sex, sexual orientation and whether they had children who would live them, an appeals court has ruled.
In a ruling that sends a lawsuit against the company back down to a district court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit overturned the lower court's ruling that Roommate.com was protected by the Communications Decency Act if users of the company's Web site used it in ways that violated fair housing laws.
In a precedent-setting decision, the appeals court said that although Roommate.com was not responsible for answers provided by users in open-ended questions, it became more than a passive participant in the process when it created online forms that asked users for information that could be used to discriminate against them -- namely, their sex, family status and sexual orientation.
"By requiring subscribers to provide the information as a condition of accessing its service, and by providing a limited set of pre-populated answers, Roommate becomes much more than a passive transmitter of information provided by others; it becomes the developer, at least in part, of that information," the appeals court ruled.
This is a terrible ruling against Roommate.com. As a renter of a room you are inviting someone into your home to live as a roommate, not renting the entire property to the person. To screen for matches it is appropriate to screen for sex, sexual orientation and presence of children.
What is the 9th Circuit going to rule next ... that dating sites cannot ask those questions either.