US Supreme Court weighs online platforms’ liability in Google recommendations case

1 month ago JURIST

The US Supreme Court Tuesday heard oral arguments in Gonzales v. Google, a case that could upend how social media companies handle content distribution. At the heart of the case is a question of whether tech giants like Google can face liability when their algorithm recommends ISIS recruitment videos. That said, the case also has broader civil rights implications because, as one of the amicus briefs filed in the case pointed out, “As society has moved online, so too have discrimination, redlining, voter suppression, and harassment.”

The statute at issue before the court is Title 47, section 230(c) of the US Code, which was originally passed under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The statute broadly shields online platforms from liability for content posted to the platform by its users. As Justice Elena Kagan described, the issue before the court Tuesday concerned figuring out “how this statute applies–the statute which was a pre-algorithm statute applies in a post-algorithm world.”

In oral arguments, attorney for the plaintiffs Eric Schnapper claimed that Youtube’s behavior fell out of the structure of section 230(c). Because of this, Schnapper argued, Youtube should face liability for allegedly aiding and abetting ISIS in their recruitment efforts. Normally, section 230(c) prevents lawsuits against social media companies over content moderation and distribution decisions. Schnapper argued this case is different because Youtube’s algorithm is “affirmatively recommending or suggesting ISIS content,” and that this is different than “mere inaction.”

Arguing on behalf of the US, Malcom Stewart agreed and disagreed in part with Schnapper. Stewart did not adopt the plaintiffs’ view of section 230(c). Instead, Stewart urged the the court to “distinguish carefully between liability for the content itself, [and] liability for statements about the content.” That said, Stewart conceded that organizational decisions of a company may still be subject to suit, outside of section 230(c)’s coverage.

Lisa Blatt argued on behalf of Google and stood in opposition to Schnapper. Blatt argued that “[s]ection 230(c)(1)’s 26 words created today’s internet.” Under section 230(c)(1), Blatt argued, websites cannot be treated as the “publisher or speaker of any information provided by another.” Following this reasoning, Blatt said that when websites like Google communicate third-party information–like ISIS recruitment videos–and “the plaintiff’s harm flows from that information,” section 230(c)(1) protects Google from liability.

The justices, particularly Justice Clarence Thomas, seemed skeptical of Schnapper’s arguments. The justices repeatedly raised concerns over the flood of litigation that could occur if the court changed the interpretation of section 230(c). Thomas asked whether Youtube used a different algorithm to recommend ISIS recruitment videos as compared to cooking videos. This captured a question the court repeatedly raised: if Youtube’s algorithm can be said to be neutral depending on the content it recommends, how is the plaintiffs’ claim any different than previous claims denied by the court?

In an amicus brief to the court, Managing Attorney of the Digital Justice Initiative at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law David Brody emphasized that the court has the potential to shape online civil rights law. “If platforms are more concerned with liability, they are likely to turn up the dial and be even less permissive of controversial speech,” Brody said. “The goal is to thread the needle.” Brody argued that they way to do this is to adopt the “consensus test,” a two-part test that lower courts have largely adopted up until this point. The test asks courts to consider: (1) does the section 230(c) claim against a party seek to treat the platform as a publisher; and (2) if so, is the platform materially contributing to the illegality? Brody emphasized:

What’s important for the court to do here is to put a little meat on the bones about what it means for a claim to treat someone as a publisher, or what it means for someone to materially contribute illegality….Because when these tests are properly applied, they don’t sweep in everything under the sun and give platforms blank check immunity, but they also don’t open the floodgates to litigation.

Through its ruling, the court has the opportunity to clarify the issue and protect against potential civil rights violations, which, in recent years, has become complicated as the internet has grown beyond the confines originally described within section 230(c).
Continue reading...

Read On "JURIST"
More News On "JURIST"
27 days ago - Wayne Shorter, jazz legend and N.J. native, dead at 89 27 days ago - What to make of Grant Williams’ surprising DNP in Celtics-Cavs matchup 27 days ago - Grading the Canucks’ Trade for Filip Hronek 29 days ago - McGhee's dramatic buzzer beater lifts Dragons into NSIC championship game 29 days ago - Buster Posey has heartfelt Scott Cousins message 12 years after collision 29 days ago - Ravi Shastri Settles Shubman Gill vs KL Rahul Debate With A Blunt Verdict 29 days ago - AMA vs KOT Dream11 Prediction, Fantasy Cricket Tips, Dream11 Team, Playing XI, Pitch Report, Injury Update- Navi Mumbai Premier League T20, Match 2 29 days ago - Murdoch admits some Fox News hosts 'endorsed' false election fraud claims 29 days ago - LaMelo Ball breaks ankle, latest setback in rough season 29 days ago - Ball fractures ankle in Hornets’ 117-106 win over Pistons 29 days ago - Avalanche examining trade market — The Fourth Period 29 days ago - Knicks deliver statement with stifling win over NBA-best Celtics 29 days ago - Who are Jimmy and Dee Haslam, reported new Milwaukee Bucks co-owners? 29 days ago - Celtics vs. Knicks takeaways: C's go ice-cold from 3 in frustrating loss 29 days ago - UNC Basketball: Photos from win at Florida State 29 days ago - Butler's acrobatic layup, 23 points lead Heat past 76ers :: 29 days ago - NBA roundup: LaMelo Ball breaks ankle in Charlotte’s win over Detroit 29 days ago - Murdoch says some Fox hosts ‘endorsed’ false election claims 29 days ago - Drunk flyers getting unruly led to tighter rules: AI CEO 29 days ago - UNC Men’s Basketball Holds Off Florida State Rally, Wins Final Road Game 29 days ago - UCLA Set to Host LMU, Michigan in Midweek Battles 29 days ago - Minus Timo Meier, Sharks host new-look Canadiens 29 days ago - Elon Musk Reclaims Top Spot on Billionaires List 29 days ago - No. 9 UConn still standing ... barely ... as sole regular-season champion of Big East 29 days ago - Breaking new ground, video game engages with Holocaust 29 days ago - John Oliver Goes After SF-Based OpenAI and Its ChatGPT Product: ‘The George Santos of Technology’ 29 days ago - HAGENS BERMAN, NATIONAL TRIAL ATTORNEYS, Encourages Catalent (CTLT) Investors with Substantial Losses to Contact Firm's Attorneys, Securities Fraud Class Action Filed - Catalent (NYSE:CTLT) 29 days ago - Florida State fights hard on Senior Night, but this time the comeback bid falls short 29 days ago - How do you talk to a whole country about COVID-19? Use a GIF. 29 days ago - 1 killed as tornadoes rip through Oklahoma, California braces for more snow 29 days ago - Austin Police Department staffing crisis: 77 officers could retire by end of March as vacancies pile up 29 days ago - Alec Baldwin sued by three Rust crew members who suffer from anxiety PTSD and have blast injuries 29 days ago - Assessment Covid-19 leaked from Chinese lab is a minority view within US intel community, sources say 29 days ago - Quinta Brunson, Kevin Jay Anik’s Relationship Timeline 29 days ago - Sydney World Pride: Here’s what you need to know ahead of Harbour Bridge closure on March 5. 29 days ago - Reddit Has a Must Read Thread About The Worst Things People Have Seen at Disney World 29 days ago - Courteney Cox snubbed by ‘Friends’ at Walk of Fame star ceremony? 29 days ago - No. 1 CSI draws Snow College in Region 18 opener: 'It'll be a hard game' 29 days ago - Rochester organization working to prevent adverse childhood experiences 29 days ago - ‘Friends’ star Courteney Cox didn’t think Hollywood success was ‘possibility’ growing up in Alabama 29 days ago - Winds shred Southern Plains; California set to get more snow 29 days ago - Robbins: Zelenskyy & Navalny heroes for standing up to Putin 29 days ago - An Arizona driver was charged after plowing into cyclists, killing 2 and injuring 17 29 days ago - DeSantis clemency only option for ex-death row inmate after Supreme Court denial 29 days ago - Rupert Murdoch admits some Fox News hosts 'endorsed' false election fraud claims 29 days ago - Nolan Gould: What Happened To The Modern Family Star? 29 days ago - Chip 4 Alliance: Senior officials finally meet to discuss semiconductor supply chain 29 days ago - Zero-calorie sweetener linked to heart attack and stroke, study finds 29 days ago - ‘American Idol’ Alum Adam Lambert Made a Lana Del Rey Song Sound Like Led Zeppelin on His New Album 29 days ago - Student Association meets with Micron to potentially develop a partnership 29 days ago - Hornets vs Pistons: How to Watch Live Stream, TV Channel, NBA Start Time 29 days ago - ‘Hoping for a miracle’: Fundraiser for family of Angus man seriously injured at Collingwood-area work site raises more than $31K 29 days ago - Disney World’s Self-Governing District Now Under State Control 29 days ago - JD Vance, Sherrod Brown demand EPA, CDC start health screenings in East Palestine after train derailment 29 days ago - UConn women's basketball guard Nika Mühl surpasses Sue Bird's single-season assist record 29 days ago - Messi, Putellas headline FIFA Best award winners as Kerr makes World XI 29 days ago - Florida Governor Strips Disney of Special District Control 29 days ago - DeSantis signs bill that gives him more control of Disney’s special district 29 days ago - Chicago Bulls vs. Toronto Raptors – 2/28/23 Free Pick & NBA Betting Prediction 29 days ago - Maple Leafs answer Lightning by making trade with Blackhawks
free geoip