Gonzalez v. Google LLC
Gonzalez v. Google LLC is a case about the reach of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Notably this is the first case in which the Supreme Court will address the scope of the protections in the law. The purpose behind enacting Section 230 was to protect companies from being held liable for things other people posted on their websites – such as message boards and chat rooms. This is a case about whether Google, through YouTube, can be held liable for ISIS recruitment videos posted there. The lawsuit is brought by the family of someone killed in a terrorist attack in Paris which ISIS claimed responsibility for. Specifically, the main issue in the case hinges on the “recommendations” part of Youtube’s website. When you watch a video it will recommend others like it. Gonzalez argues that the section of the website allows YouTube to be liable because it’s YouTube’s own recommendation and not third party content itself that matters. Google LLC argues that this case could destroy the internet: they say there’s no rational line that would allow search engines and other sites with listings on them to continue operating, and that it would affect blogging and other types of information delivery as well.
If Gonzalez wins, tech companies won’t be insulated from liability when they make recommendations through their own speech.
If Google LLC wins, it would be harder for plaintiffs to sue companies that arguably aren’t being responsible when it comes to removing terrorist or other dangerous content from their websites, but of course, as they argue, it could negatively affect huge sections of the internet.