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Google warns Supreme Court case could upend the internet

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Google told the Supreme Court that if it guts Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, it would upend the internet, encourage suppression of legitimate speech and proliferate offensive speech. The tech giant is being sued by the family of Nohemi Gonzalez, who was killed in 2015 during an Islamic State group (ISIS) terrorist attack in Paris that left 129 people dead.

Section 230 protects platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter from lawsuits regarding content people post on their sites. For instance, if someone posts hateful or defamatory content on Twitter, the victim cannot sue Twitter. They can only seek damages from the person who posted it.

Section 230 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.” 

Gonzalez’s family argues that Youtube, which is owned by Google, aided and abetted the Islamic State group by recommending the terrorist organization’s videos to users. Therefore, the family contends, YouTube is more than just what’s called an “interactive computer service” that allows third parties to post content.

Google countered that if websites accepted all third-party content without organizing or limiting that content, it would risk a proliferation of pornography, hate speech and illegality.

“Recommendation algorithms are what make it possible to find the needles in humanity’s largest haystack,” attorneys for Google wrote in a brief.

The justices will have to decide if online platforms can be held liable for recommending content, even if they did not create or post it. Oral arguments are scheduled for Feb. 21 and a decision will be released by this summer.

While the Supreme Court may have the final word on that specific issue, lawmakers on Capitol Hill have debated for years whether to keep or repeal Section 230 entirely.

“Section 230 was absolutely necessary to bring our legal system into the 21st century. It has been the legal foundation for the growth of the internet, particularly in areas like education and jobs and a platform for free speech around the world,” Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said during a 2017 Senate Commerce Committee hearing.

“Right now we’re looking for ways to reform section 230 and to regulate big tech without turning the congress into a new speech police,” Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., said in 2020.

If online platforms are ultimately made responsible for users’ content, it would be an enormous task to fully police it. Each day tech users generate more than 500 million tweets, 294 billion emails, 4 million gigabytes of Facebook data and 720,000 hours of new YouTube content.

The protections provided by Section 230 are extraordinary. As an example, a young boy was once lured into performing sex acts with a grown man who then marketed videos of the crime on AOL. The boy’s parents sued AOL and AOL won.

Google just told the Supreme Court that if it guts Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act it would upend the internet, encourage suppression of legitimate speech and proliferate offensive speech. 

 

So why is Google taking such a strong stance? 

 

They’re being sued, and they’re defending the law that protects platforms like youtube, facebook, and twitter from lawsuits regarding content people post on their sites. 

 

Section 230 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.” 

 

To give you an idea of just how strong Section 230’s protections are: A young boy was once lured into performing sex acts with a grown man, that man then marketed videos of the crime on AOL. The boy’s parents sued AOL and AOL won. 

 

In this case, the family of Nohemi Gonzalez is suing Google saying it aided and abetted ISIS by recommending the terrorist organization’s videos to users. Gonzalez was killed in 2015 during an ISIS terrorist attack in Paris. 129 people died. 

 

The family says google recommended, sorted and displayed the ISIS videos, and it’s not just what’s called an interactive computer service that allows third parties to post content. 

 

Google’s lawyers told the court: “Recommendation algorithms are what make it possible to find the needles in humanity’s largest haystack.”

 

Google argues if websites accepted all third-party content without organizing or limiting that content, it would risk a proliferation of pornography, hate speech, and illegality. 

 

The Justices will have to decide if online platforms can be held liable for recommending content, even if they did not create it or post it.

 

While the supreme court may have the final word on that specific issue, lawmakers on Capitol Hill have debated for years whether to keep or repeal section 230 entirely. 

 

Sen. Ron Wyden: “Section 230 was absolutely necessary to bring our legal system into the 21st century. It has been the legal foundation for the growth of the internet, particularly in areas like education and jobs and a platform for free speech around the world. And I believe it ought to be kept in tact. ” 

 

Sen. Marsha Blackburn: “This year, efforts to reform section 230 and protect speech online are in full swing. There’s no denying that conservatives have suffered under liberal mob rule. But, right now we’re looking for ways to reform section 230 and to regulate big tech without turning the congress into a new speech police.” 

 

If online platforms are ultimately made responsible for users’ content and have to further police it, Google’s brief puts into perspective what an enormous task that would be: Each day users worldwide generate over 500 million tweets, 294 billion emails, 4 million gigabytes of Facebook data, and 720,000 hours of new YouTube content.

 

As for Gonzalez v. Google, the Justices will hear oral arguments February 21st and a decision will be released by this summer. Straight Arrow News.com will keep covering this case with unbiased, straight facts. 

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Google told the Supreme Court that if it guts Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, it would upend the internet, encourage suppression of legitimate speech and proliferate offensive speech. The tech giant is being sued by the family of Nohemi Gonzalez, who was killed in 2015 during an Islamic State group (ISIS) terrorist attack in Paris that left 129 people dead.

Section 230 protects platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter from lawsuits regarding content people post on their sites. For instance, if someone posts hateful or defamatory content on Twitter, the victim cannot sue Twitter. They can only seek damages from the person who posted it.

Section 230 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.” 

Gonzalez’s family argues that Youtube, which is owned by Google, aided and abetted the Islamic State group by recommending the terrorist organization’s videos to users. Therefore, the family contends, YouTube is more than just what’s called an “interactive computer service” that allows third parties to post content.

Google countered that if websites accepted all third-party content without organizing or limiting that content, it would risk a proliferation of pornography, hate speech and illegality.

“Recommendation algorithms are what make it possible to find the needles in humanity’s largest haystack,” attorneys for Google wrote in a brief.

The justices will have to decide if online platforms can be held liable for recommending content, even if they did not create or post it. Oral arguments are scheduled for Feb. 21 and a decision will be released by this summer.

While the Supreme Court may have the final word on that specific issue, lawmakers on Capitol Hill have debated for years whether to keep or repeal Section 230 entirely.

“Section 230 was absolutely necessary to bring our legal system into the 21st century. It has been the legal foundation for the growth of the internet, particularly in areas like education and jobs and a platform for free speech around the world,” Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said during a 2017 Senate Commerce Committee hearing.

“Right now we’re looking for ways to reform section 230 and to regulate big tech without turning the congress into a new speech police,” Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., said in 2020.

If online platforms are ultimately made responsible for users’ content, it would be an enormous task to fully police it. Each day tech users generate more than 500 million tweets, 294 billion emails, 4 million gigabytes of Facebook data and 720,000 hours of new YouTube content.

The protections provided by Section 230 are extraordinary. As an example, a young boy was once lured into performing sex acts with a grown man who then marketed videos of the crime on AOL. The boy’s parents sued AOL and AOL won.

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