Supreme Court Decision Could Make or Break the Modern Internet, Says ITIF
WASHINGTON—Ahead of the Supreme Court hearing oral arguments for the Gonzalez v. Google case, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), the leading think tank for science and technology policy, issued the following statement from Senior Policy Analyst Ashley Johnson:
The Supreme Court’s decision in this case will determine not only the future of Section 230 but the future of the modern Internet. Significantly weakening Section 230’s liability shield will change the way many online services operate, to the detriment of consumers and free expression online.
Countless online services rely on algorithms to rank and order massive amounts of content in ways users will find most useful or entertaining. These features benefit users who do not want to be bombarded by irrelevant content, as well as individuals and businesses that rely on social media to market themselves or their products and services.
Exempting algorithmic recommendations from Section 230 will create a large exception to the law’s liability protections and open online services to an influx of lawsuits. To cover skyrocketing legal costs, online services may need to start charging more or charging for services that were previously free. Alternatively, they may need to change the way their algorithms rank and order content, downranking controversial content, which would potentially stifle online political speech.
For more on this issue, see:
- Robert D. Atkinson, Jackie Whisman, and Ashley Johnson, “Podcast: Should Section 230 Cover Algorithms? What’s at Stake in Gonzalez v. Google, With Ashley Johnson” (ITIF, 2023)
- Ashley Johnson, “If the Supreme Court Limits Section 230, It Will Change the Way the Internet Functions” (ITIF, 2023)
- Ashley Johnson, “The Supreme Court May Take Out One of the Pillars of the Modern Internet” (ITIF, 2022)
- Ashley Johnson and Daniel Castro, “Overview of Section 230: What It Is, Why It Was Created, and What It Has Achieved” (ITIF, 2021)
The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute focusing on the intersection of technological innovation and public policy. Recognized by its peers in the think tank community as the global center of excellence for science and technology policy, ITIF’s mission is to formulate and promote policy solutions that accelerate innovation and boost productivity to spur growth, opportunity, and progress.