n upcoming decision in the U.S. Supreme Court case regarding online social media companies’ liability for content posted on their platforms could transform the internet for the worse, Google said in a court filing.
The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear Gonzalez v. Google next month and answer important questions surrounding the scope of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which generally shields online platforms like Google and Facebook from liability for content published by their users. Congress passed the law in 1996, after a New York court held a web service provider liable for offensive messages posted to a bulletin board it hosted.
Should the high court decide to eliminate or cut back liability protections the Section 230 offers, it could “upend the internet” and “perversely encourage both wide-ranging suppression of speech and the proliferation of more offensive speech,” Google said in a brief (pdf) Thursday.
“This Court should decline to adopt novel and untested theories that risk transforming today’s internet into a forced choice between overly curated mainstream sites or fringe sites flooded with objectionable content,” the search giant argued.
The pending case was filed by Reynaldo Gonzalez, a California man whose daughter was among 130 victims of the deadly terror attacks in 2015 in Paris, France. The father sued Google under a federal counterterrorism law, accusing Google of assisting ISIS by hosting the terrorist group’s recruitment videos on YouTube.
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