This past Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court officially agreed to take on a case that challenges the legal protections issued for big tech companies concerning user-created- content that could potentially bring on a brand new period of moderating freedom of expression on the Internet.
The case in question, Reynaldo Gonzalez, et al v. Google LLC, would be heard questioning whether or not tech companies issue “target recommendations.”
As reported by Axios, the case alleges that YouTube aided and abetted in the death of a 23-year-old American woman, Nohemi Gonzalez, as she was killed in the ISIS attacks against Paris back in 2015 alongside 130 others and the injury of well over a hundred more.
Google, the parent company of the platform YouTube, was slammed with a lawsuit by the family of Gonzalez who argued that the algorithms from the platform allowed and even recommended terrorist-related content from ISIS to target people that had “hundreds of radicalizing videos inciting violence and recruiting potential supporters.”
Google fought back against the claims by making use of Section 230 and has since moved to toss out the lawsuit entirely, reported the outlet.
The Hill reported that one judge dismissed the case which caused the family to reach out to appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States.
This case from Gonzales goes further into yet another heavily controversial topic within the Communications Decency Act, which sports a section hidden within the law — which is most commonly known as Section 230 — which states, “no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”
The law has generated quite a bit of criticism from both Republicans and Democrats, who both argue that it gives far to much power to the social media titans and states that it openly favors one party over the other when it comes to censoring or bolstering content.
Justin Amash, a Former Libertarian U.S. Congressman, expressed via social media, “regime Republican and Democrats want to destroy Section 230 because it protects freedom of speech.”
“Dismantling Section 230 will lead to more censorship of speech that challenges their authority—giving those in power more influence and control over public discourse,” stated Amash.
Marsha Blackburn, a Republican Senator from Tennessee, stated via a social media post that she is waiting excitedly to find out just what the high court has to say about the issue.
“For too long, Big Tech has used Section 230 as a shield to avoid accountability for its decisions, including the hosting of [Child Sexual Abuse Material], violent content, and the removal of conservative content,” expressed Blackburn.
One trade group for tech corporations, NetChoice, stepped up to try and advocate for the industry to those with ABC News, stating that the tech giants need that flexibility to censor and bolster its content.
“Without moderation, the internet will become a content cesspool, filled with vile content of all sorts, and making it easier for things like terrorist recruitment,” explained Chris Marchese, the counsel for NetChoice.
A report for the Washington Examiner expressed that many others stated that changing the provision could create larger impacts on smaller organizations.
“Section 230 is the foundation that today’s internet is built on, supporting both speech online and the ability of internet platforms to take down harmful content,” stated the CEO of Chamber of Progress, Adam Kovacevich. “Eroding that wouldn’t just impact large platforms — it would hammer smaller websites, from community newspapers to niche blogs.”