SCOTUS Considers Google's Liability for Recommending ISIS Videos
What this could mean for tech companies is significant
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) heard oral arguments in Gonzalez v. Google, a lawsuit that could shift the foundations of internet law. It argues tech companies should be legally liable for harmful content their algorithms promote
The case stems from the killing of 23-year-old Nohemi Gonzalez, a college exchange student, by Islamic State gunmen in Paris in 2015. The Gonzalez family contends that by recommending Islamic State-related content, YouTube — which is owned by Google — acted as a recruiting platform for the group in violation of U.S. laws against aiding and abetting terrorists.
During the nearly three-hour session, Google lawyer Lisa Blatt told the justices that a law known as Section 230 protects the company from legal responsibility for the third-party videos that its recommendation algorithms surface; such immunity is essential to tech companies' ability to provide useful and safe content to their users, she said. Gonzalez family lawyer Eric Schnapper argued that applying Section 230 to algorithmic recommendations provides an incentive to promote harmful content; he urged the court to narrow those protections.
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