The Supreme Court is taking on Big Tech. The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments on Tuesday in a case that could change the internet.
The case could upend protections internet companies have had throughout the roughly two-decade rise of social media.
The case is centered on Section 230, which is part of the 1996 Communications Decency Act and protects online platforms from lawsuits over the content users post.
That could all change. In 2016, the family of a 23-year-old American college student who was killed during the 2015 Paris terror attacks sued Google. They claim the algorithm on YouTube, which is owned by Google, promoted extremist content that ultimately led to their daughter’s death. For years, lower courts have argued Section 230 protects Google from the suit.
Now, the legal battle’s reached the Supreme Court.
The case revolves around the core provision of Section 230: “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”
Justice Clarence Thomas has previously said the Supreme Court should scale back Section 230. Depending on how the conservative-leaning bench goes, the case could help decide if tech companies from Reddit to Tinder are liable for targeted ads or how their algorithms spread content.
Google and its supporters worry changes to the law may cause platforms to remove content out of fear of being sued, stifling free speech in the process.
The tech industry argues that protection is critical, but the rule has been criticized on both sides of the aisle — albeit for different reasons.
Critics of the law say algorithms need to be kept in check and are not covered by Section 230 because they can promote misinformation and spread hateful content.
As Congress is largely at a stalemate on how to proceed with rules regulating content moderation, all eyes are on how the justices respond in the first Section 230 case to hit the highest court.
A final decision, in this case, is not expected until June.