Google’s Brief to the Supreme Court Explains Why We Need Section 230
Next month, the Supreme Court will hear Gonzalez v. Google. This lawsuit seeks to strip Google of its protections from civil liability for third-party content under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
The plaintiff is Reynaldo Gonzalez, whose daughter was murdered in a 2015 terrorist attack. Gonzalez argues that YouTube, a Google subsidiary, should face liability because its algorithms recommended terrorist content posted on the platform that Gonzalez says aided the Islamic State. The case asks whether Section 230 applies to content recommended by YouTube’s algorithms. Defending itself, the law, and the utility of algorithms online, Google on Thursday submitted a brief to the Supreme Court.
Gonzalez argues that YouTube’s recommendation algorithms make YouTube, to some degree, a publisher of third-party content and, thus, unprotected by Section 230. In its brief, Google rejoins that YouTube’s recommendations fall squarely within the text and intent of the provision.
“If Section 230 does not apply to how YouTube organizes third-party videos, petitioners and the government have no coherent theory that would save search recommendations and other basic software tools that organize an otherwise unnavigable flood of websites, videos, comments, messages, product listings, files, and other information,” Google wrote in its brief.
Virtually any online service that hosts third-party content uses algorithms to filter content to great effect, Google noted. Without algorithmic sorting, its own search engine would be an “unordered, spam-filled” mess. Further, if recommending content vaporizes a platform’s Section 230 protections, the company argued, such platforms as Amazon, Lexis (which publishes law review articles), and TripAdvisor (which hosts business review
Article from Reason.com