Supreme Court Agrees To Hear Historic Section 230 Case

( The Supreme Court earlier this week agreed to hear a case that is challenging the legal protections big tech companies currently enjoy regarding content that is generated by its users.

The case in question, Reynaldo Gonzalez, et al v. Google LLC, asks whether these tech companies end up making “target recommendations.” The case is a big one, and deals with federal protections under what’s known as Section 230.

The case alleges that YouTube aided and abetted in the death of 23-year-old Nohemi Gonzalez, who was an American woman killed in the ISIS attacks in Paris back in 2015. Those attacks killed another 130 people people and injured more than 100.

Gonzalez’s family ended up suing Google, saying the algorithms the platform has not only allowed but also recommended content from terrorists such as ISIS that was meant to target users with their “hundreds of radicalizing videos inciting violence and recruiting potential supporters.”

In response, Google has argued the claims being brought by the plaintiff are barred under Section 230. They’ve tried to have the lawsuit dismissed altogether.

A judge in a lower court dismissed the case altogether, which prompted the family to then send an appeal to the Supreme Court.

At the heart of the argument in the case is Section 230, a provision that’s tucked inside the Communications Decency Act that’s gotten a lot of attention over the last few years. The provision 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.”

Some Republicans and even Democrats have criticized the law recently, saying it gives social media companies too much power. Republicans especially have contended that it allows the big tech companies to favor one political ideology over another when they are making decisions on which content to bolster and which content to censor.

Yet, there are those who believe that if Section 230 were to be ended, it would lead to even more censorship of speech online. Justin Amash, a former Libertarian congressman, tweeted recently:

“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.”

Trade groups such as NetChoice are also advocating on behalf of tech companies saying they need Section 230 in place so that they can enjoy flexibility to either remove or keep content on their platforms.

Chris Marchese, who serves as counsel for NetChoice, said:

“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.”

Big tech companies are often the ones that receive a lot of attention during arguments about Section 230, but many smaller organizations would be impacted by a change in it, too.

The Chamber of Progress’ CEO Adam Kovacevich explained:

“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. Eroding that wouldn’t just impact large platforms — it would hammer smaller websites, from community newspapers to niche blogs.”