WASHINGTON DC – For years, Washington has been stumped about how to regulate the internet—or if it should even try. But the Supreme Court is set to hear a cybersecurity lawyers case next week that could completely transform our online world as we know it.
On Tuesday, justices will hear arguments for Gonzalez v. Google, a case that challenges Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a 1996 law that grants internet platforms immunity for most third-party content posted on their websites.
The arguments will revolve around tech algorithms, which the plaintiffs say boosted extremist messaging in the lead up to a terrorist attack. They argue that Section 230’s protections should not apply to the content a company’s algorithm recommends online, and therefore Google is legally liable for the extremist videos published on its YouTube service.
SeSome experts say the Supreme Court’s decisions on these cases could represent a unique opportunity to set the rules for Section 230, but others also warn that going too far could gut 230 entirely and make our relationship with the internet scarcely recognizable.
Section 230 has allowed the internet to function the way it does today by enabling websites to publish most content without fear of legal culpability, with one 26-word provision that has been extremely influential in the formation of today’s internet: “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.”
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