Today, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments to decide whether Section 230 immunity shields online platforms from liabilities when relying on algorithms to make targeted recommendations. Many Section 230 defenders feared that the court might be eager to chip away at the statute’s protections, terrified that in the worst-case scenario, the Supreme Court could doom the Internet as we know it.There are some legitimate legal issues here, but they kept going back to ridiculous hypotheticals:
JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: -- if you write an algorithm for someone that, in its structure, ensures the discrimination between people, a dating app, for example, someone comes to you and says, I'm going to create an algorithm that inherently discriminates against people, it won't match black people to white people, Asian people to Hispanics, it's going to discriminate, you would say that Internet provider is discriminating, correct?It appears that think it should be illegal for someone to express a racial preference while dating!
MR. SCHNAPPER [lawyer against Google]: I would ...
JUSTICE BARRETT: Ms. Blatt, what about Justice Sotomayor's dating hypothetical? The discrimination, like, oh, we're only going to -- we're not going to match black people and white people, et cetera. What about that? Is that given 230's shield?
MS. BLATT [lawyer for Google]: Absolutely not, because any disparate treatment claim or race discrimination is saying you're treating people different regardless of the content.
Someday, if a White woman wants to get married to a White man, she will have to document that she has at least tried dating some Black men, as well as some LGBTQ people.
Google may win this case, but it appears that it will lose some of its immunity.