A Supreme Court showdown over big tech & your internet

WASHINGTON, D.C. (CNN) – At the Supreme Court, the battle over free expression online is coming to a head.

This week, two cases are being heard and the outcomes could determine whether tech platforms and social media companies can be sued for recommending content to their users or for supporting acts of international terrorism by hosting terrorist content.

CNET News Editor-At-Large Ian Sherr said, “We have this very rare instance where a lot of people in D.C. agree that something needs to be done; they haven’t been able to meet that point where they actually agree on the answer.”

At the heart of it all is Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a 27-year-old federal law that protects websites like Google, Twitter, and others, from lawsuits over what their users post online.

Some Democrats, including President Joe Biden, say it prevents tech giants from being held accountable for spreading misinformation and hate speech. But many Republicans allege that it gives big tech a license to censor Conservative viewpoints.

Eric Goldman is a Santa Clara University Law professor. He said, “The Supreme Court’s ruling exposes how vulnerable the internet is to regulatory interventions, and how at-risk we are, of being faced with a very different internet.”

Some experts question if the justices are equipped to make a sound decision, partly because they don’t use social media enough to fully understand it.

Professor Goldman said, “It’s a structural problem with the Supreme Court, that when they make legislative-like decisions, they don’t have the expertise that the legislature has, and they don’t hear from all the people that are affected.”

The cases potentially add to an uncertain playbook over how to regulate online speech.

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