Here Comes the Supreme Court

United States Supreme Court Justices

( – Concerns are being voiced that the United States Supreme Court might be ill-equipped to hear two cases that could be crucial for the future of Big Tech companies.

This week, the Supreme Court is due to hear the two lawsuits, one against Google and the other against Twitter, in which complaints insist that tech companies are liable for what user content is suggested or promoted by their algorithms, Axios reported, as cited by Newsmax.

The lawsuits involve the federal law known as Section 230, which protects tech platforms from being liable for content posted by their users.

Against this backdrop, though, some legal experts have warned that the highest court in the land may be “ill-matched” for ruling on the matters in question.

“The court might think it’s doing one thing and it’s actually doing something very different,” stated Stanford University law professor Evelyn Douek.

“It’s ill-matched to the problem,” added the scholar who specializes in tech law.

The report notes that the US Supreme Court has “historically” “struggled” with issues over new technology.

Hence the concerns that its potential rulings on social-media algorithm conflicts may cause “more problems than they solve.”

It is pointed out that some in the tech industry consider the possibility that the Supreme Court may restrict Section 230 as “alarming” because of any “unintended consequences” that it may bring about.

“[The Court could say] problematic things … that end up weaponizing the legal system against court moderation,” even if Google and Twitter win, according to Berin Szóka, head of TechFreedom, a pro-libertarian think tank.

“There is a valid concern that the Court may simply not understand nor appreciate the technical complexities that drive the modern web,” Jess Miers, a pro-tech Chamber of Progress lawyer, wrote in an article last week.

The report emphasized that the Supreme Court usually seeks to resolve issues through “one durable, overarching principle” – since it is an “innately slow-moving institution.”

However, that could be a questionable approach when technological changes evolve quickly.

Thus, in 1979, the US Supreme Court decided that law enforcement did not need a warrant to get the list of telephone numbers a person has called since that was information the user had voluntarily given to a third party, namely, the telephone company.

According to the court, that was why there was no reasonable expectation of privacy in such cases.

Even though the 1979 landline telephone ruling might have been deemed narrow, in its aftermath, the Supreme Court has struggled with adapting the same “third-party doctrine” to issues in the cellphone era, the report elaborated.

That is because, with cell phones, third parties could accept a person’s entire information, while “the concept of privacy has been called into question by the tracking capabilities of cellphones and other mobile electronic devices.”