A U.S. Supreme Court justice cast doubt on Tuesday that YouTube parent Google should be held legally accountable for its algorithm that automatically recommends extremist recruitment videos. The perception also kicked off two days of debate over whether internet providers should be held accountable for material posted online.
Under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act 1996, network providers are not responsible for content uploaded to the platform by others. Industry insiders say it is this protection mechanism that has allowed the internet economy to grow to the scale it is today. The immunity, meanwhile, has been accused of fueling the spread of harmful content, including in this week’s case allegedly fueling attacks by the terrorist group Islamic State (ISIS).
Google attorney Lisa Blatt told the court on Tuesday that it was the 26 English words in Section 230(c)(1) that made the internet what it is today. The short text says: “No provider or user of interactive computer services should be considered a publisher or spokesperson for any information provided by another provider of content.”