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Supreme Court Shows Concerns With Limiting Section 230

 |  February 22, 2023

Supreme Court Justices voiced hesitation in upending Section 30 that protects the tech industry from liability for their users’ posts during arguments in Gonzalez v. Google on Tuesday The Washington Post reported. 

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, protects the companies from liability for content posted by individual users, no matter how discriminatory, defamatory or even dangerous the information may be.

The family of the only American killed in the 2015 Paris terror attacks, Nohemi Gonzalez, alleges that YouTube’s parent company Google played a role in radicalizing the extremists that murdered their daughter by disseminating ISIS videos via algorithm.

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Conservative Justice Samuel Alito at one point said he was “completely confused” by the distinction Schnapper tried to draw between YouTube’s own speech and that of a third party.

Justice Elena Kagan noted that algorithms are so integral to the digital age that allowing the Gonzalez family to sue over them could render Section 230 meaningless.

“We’re a court. We really don’t know about these things. You know, these are not like the nine greatest experts on the internet,” Kagan said of her colleagues, eliciting a laugh from the courtroom gallery. “There’s a lot of uncertainty going the way you would have us go, in part, just because of the difficulty of drawing lines in this area and just because of the fact that, once we go with you, all of a sudden we’re finding that Google isn’t protected. And maybe Congress should want that system, but isn’t that something for Congress to do, not the court?”

On Wednesday, the justices will hear arguments in Twitter v. Taamneh, a similar case with a different legal question.