Google Sends Warning To Supreme Court About The Internet

( Last week, Microsoft, Google, and Meta filed amicus briefs in Gonzalez v. Google, the Supreme Court case that could upend Section 230, which protects online platforms from being liable for the conduct of their users.

The case relates to a lawsuit brought by Reynaldo Gonzalez who sued Google under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act after his daughter was killed in the 2015 ISIS attack in Paris. Gonzalez alleges that Google assisted ISIS by hosting recruitment videos on YouTube, even recommending ISIS videos to users via its algorithm. Gonzalez maintains that doing so makes Google liable for helping the terrorist organization.

In their briefs, the tech companies argued that Section 230 is the backbone of the modern internet and critical to protecting social media platforms. They warned that any changes to how algorithms are treated under the law would have a massive impact on the use of the internet.

Writing on behalf of Google, the liberal advocacy group Chamber of Progress argued in its brief that Section 230 is “part of a unified design that protects third-party content curation.” It warned that eliminating any part of the Section 230 protections “would dramatically alter the Internet for the hundreds of millions of Americans, and billions of worldwide users, who depend on online services for information, education, entertainment, and income.”

In its amicus brief, Microsoft argued that if the court rules against Google, it would strip “long-standing, critical protection” in “illogical ways that are inconsistent with how algorithms actually work.”

Meta argued in its amicus brief that only Congress has the power to change Section 230.

The lower courts previously ruled in Google’s favor, broadly interpreting Section 230 to say that Google isn’t treated as liable due to ISIS creating the content and the algorithm treating the videos the same as others.

Justice Clarence Thomas has expressed interest in challenging this broad interpretation of Section 230.