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Will SCOTUS Upend the Internet?

October 31, 2022

“The Supreme Court’s resolution of the Gonzalez case will likely represent the most consequential update for Section 230 in the foreseeable future,” writes Prof. Christopher S. Yoo in the Los Angeles Times.

Christopher S. Yoo, John H. Chestnut Professor of Law, Communication, and Computer & Information Science, has published an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, exploring the Supreme Court’s decision to consider Gonzalez vs. Google, which concerns protections for interactive computer services in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

Yoo, who is the Founding Director of the Center for Technology, Innovation and Competition, has emerged as one of the world’s leading authorities on law and technology. One of the most cited scholars in administrative and regulatory law as well as intellectual property, he has authored five books and over 100 scholarly works.

From the Los Angeles Times:

This month the Supreme Court marked a turning point in the history of the internet. The court agreed to consider Gonzalez vs. Google, its first case interpreting Section 230 — a once-obscure statute that is now widely credited for having “created the internet” and is debated by politicians on both sides of the aisle.

Section 230 states that online companies will not be “treated as the publisher” of any content provided by a third party, such as someone posting on the companies’ websites. Enacted by Congress in 1996 as part of the otherwise ill-fated Communications Decency Act, the law provides a degree of legal immunity to actors such as Google, Twitter and Facebook for the content shared on their platforms by users.

The law protects companies that provide a platform for other people’s speech from the constant threat of defamation suits — while still empowering them to remove content thought to be objectionable. This enabled the robust, often discordant discourse that defines the internet today. What might the Supreme Court’s intervention mean for its future?

Read Yoo’s full piece at the Los Angeles Times.