On October 3, 2022, the United States Supreme Court (the Court) granted certiorari in Gonzalez v. Google LLC, 2 F.4th 871 (9th Cir. 2021), to consider whether section 230(c)(1) of the Communications Decency Act immunizes website operators and other online service providers when they make targeted recommendations of information provided by another information content provider, in this case terrorism-related videos posted on YouTube.

The estate of Nohemi Gonzalez, a victim of the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, sued Google under the Anti-Terrorism Act for recommending ISIS recruitment videos through its YouTube algorithm, alleging that Google is liable for Gonzalez’s death. The lower court in the Northern District of California held that section 230(c)(1), which provides that “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”, protected Google against the claims. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the lower court’s decision.

In its reasons for granting certiorari, the Court explained that certiorari was appropriate in cases where the U.S. Court of Appeals decided an important question of federal law that had not been, but should be, settled by the Court. The Court went on to state that certiorari was appropriate because the prior decisions in the case and other related cases conflicted with the decisions in six circuits holding that the protections of section 230 were limited to traditional editorial functions. Further, the Court stated that the Ninth Circuit’s interpretation was clearly incorrect, serving further justification for granting certiorari.

A decision in this case is expected before the Court commences its summer recess in July 2023.

Summary By: Sharan Johal


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