What is the future of the internet? Don’t ask the Supreme Court


Nine justices set out on Tuesday to decide what the future of the internet might look like if the Supreme Court narrows the scope of the law that some believe created the modern social media age.

After almost three hours of arguments, it was clear that the judges had no worldview.

That reluctance, coupled with the fact that the justices were slipping into new territory for the first time, suggests that the court is unlikely, in the case at hand, to issue a sweeping decision with unknown consequences in one of the closely watched disputes. the term.

Tech companies, big and small, are following the case, fearing that the judges could reshape how the sites recommend and moderate content in the future and put websites at risk of dozens of lawsuits, which that would threaten them.

The family of Nohemi Gonzalez, a US student who was killed in a Paris bistro in 2015, first brought the case before the judges after ISIS terrorists opened fire. Now, her family seeks to hold YouTube, a subsidiary of Google, liable for her death because of the site’s alleged promotion – through algorithms – of terrorist videos.

The family sued under a federal law known as the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1990, which authorizes such lawsuits for injuries “caused by an act of international terrorism.”

Lower courts rejected the challenge, citing Section 230 of the Communications Restriction Act of 1996, the law that has been used for years to provide immunity to websites from what one judge on Tuesday called “global lawsuits” arising from third-party content. party. The Gonzalez family argues that Section 230 does not protect Google from liability for targeted suggestions.

Oral arguments descended into a maze of questions, voicing concerns about trending algorithms, thumbnail pop-ups, artificial intelligence, emojis, endorsements and even Yelp restaurant reviews. But at the end of the day, the justices seemed frustrated by the scope of the arguments before them and unclear about the road ahead.

– Source:
CNN Business
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A view of the US Supreme Court on June 1, 2022 in Washington, DC.

Family of ISIS victim says YouTube algorithm is to blame. What will the Supreme Court say?


– Source: CNN Business

A lawyer who represented the plaintiffs in the lawsuit repeatedly failed, for example, to offer substantial limiting principles for his argument that could lead to the elimination of a lawsuit against powerful sites such as Google or Twitter or which may threaten the survival of smaller sites. And some judges backed away from the “The sky is falling” view advanced by Google’s counsel.

Often, the justices said they were confused by the arguments before them – a sign that they may find a way to grapple with the merits or send the case back to the lower courts for further deliberation. At least they seemed spooked enough to go carefully.

“I’m afraid I’m totally confused about whatever argument you’re making right now,” Justice Samuel Alito said early on. “So I think I’m very confused,” Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson said at another point. “I’m still confused,” Justice Clarence Thomas said midway through the arguments.

Justice Elena Kagan even suggested that Congress step in. “I mean, we’re a court. We don’t really know about these things. You know, these are not like the nine biggest experts on the internet,” she said with a laugh.

But in court, Eric Schnapper, a lawyer for the family, repeatedly pushed much broader arguments that could affect other areas of third-party content.

However, even Thomas, who has previously expressed concern about the scope of Section 230, seemed skeptical. He sought clarification from Schnapper on how one might distinguish between algorithms that “present cooking videos to people interested in cooking and ISIS videos to people interested in ISIS.”

Alito asked if Google could simply be organizing information, instead of recommending any type of content.

“I don’t know where you draw the line,” Alito said.

Chief Justice John Roberts tried to draw an analogy with a bookseller. He suggested that Google recommending certain information is no different than a bookseller sending a reader to a table of related books.

At one point Kagan suggested that Schnapper was trying to break the entire statute: “Does your position put us down the road so that 230 can’t mean anything?” she asked.

When Lisa Blatt, a lawyer for Google, took the stand she warned the justices that “Section 230 created the internet today” because “Congress made that choice to stop lawmakers from a hindrance in the beginning.”

“If websites are exposed to liability for implicitly recommending a third-party context, the text (of 230) must be violated and a threat to the internet today,” she said.

In the end, Schnapper seemed to speak for the court when he said “it’s hard to do this in the brief.”

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