US Supreme Court reluctant to lift legal protections for tech companies

On February 21, Nohemi Gonzalez's family and their attorney stood in front of the US Supreme Court

Tuesday, US Supreme Court justices expressed reluctance to alter the legal protection provided to social media companies in a case that could fundamentally alter the internet.

It pits YouTube owner Google against the family of Nohemi Gonzalez, 23, who was shot dead by Islamic State fighters in Paris in 2015.

By suggesting the terrorist organization's videos to users, they charge the internet behemoth with supporting the organization.

Invoking a decades-old law, Google claimed that it is not responsible.

The Communications Decency Act's Section 230 shields internet service providers from liability for third-party content posted on their platforms.

The law from 1996 also permits businesses to delete content that is thought to be against the terms of the platform.

Tuesday, the justices of the Supreme Court heard arguments from attorneys for US government officials, Google, and Ms. Gonzalez's family for nearly three hours.

The Supreme Court will be asked to define the parameters of Section 230 in this case and decide whether websites like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter are protected when their algorithms direct users to specific content.

Justices expressed concern during the hearing that the law was difficult to interpret because the internet landscape had changed so significantly since it was first passed 27 years ago.

Justices also questioned whether a decision in Ms. Gonzalez's family's favor might pave the way for a flood of lawsuits against tech companies.

Judge Elena Kagan, a liberal, said, "You are creating a world of lawsuits.". "Really, whenever there is content, there are presentational and prioritization options that can be adjusted to suit. ".

Samuel Alito, a conservative justice, and Ketanji Brown Jackson, a liberal justice, both admitted they were perplexed by the arguments put forth by a lawyer for the Gonzalez family.

Conservative Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh expressed worry that any decision to reduce the legal protections for internet companies "would really crash the digital economy.".

The Gonzalez family filed a lawsuit against Google in 2016, claiming the tech giant had broken federal anti-terrorism laws by suggesting Islamic State videos to its users.

The tech giant was found to be protected by Section 230, according to two lower courts that have ruled in Google's favor.

By the end of June, the Supreme Court is anticipated to issue its ruling in the case.

The justices will hear a related case on whether Twitter supported terrorism by allowing the Islamic State to use its platform on Wednesday.

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