« The Weeds

Will the Supreme Court ruin the internet?


On Tuesday, February 21, the Supreme Court will hear two cases that could dramatically change the way we use the internet. The cases are against two tech giants, Google and Twitter. More specifically, it hits their algorithms. The big question is: can these companies be held responsible for crimes like terrorism because of how their algorithms prioritize content? Vox senior correspondent Ian Millhiser explains.


The Supreme Court hears two cases that could ruin the internet 


Jonquilyn Hill


Sofi LaLonde, producer

Cristian Ayala, engineer

A.M. Hall, editorial director of talk podcasts

Want to support The Weeds? Please consider making a donation to Vox: bit.ly/givepodcasts

Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Support for this body cast comes from Washington, wise in a regional pocket cast from charles schwab. Decisions made in washington affect your portfolio in your money every day, but what policy changes should investors be watching Washington wise is an original podcast for investors from charles schwab, the show unpack the stories making news in washington and how they may affect your finances and investments. Listen today at schwab, dot com, slash, washington, wise, that's schwab, dot, com, slash washington, wise hello, I'm John callin hill, and this is the weeds, so the other I was at the vocs offices in DC and I ran into my colleague in mill heizer. He covers the supreme court, democracy and he's also a lawyer, as we were sure
the breeze catching up. We got to talking about the upcoming cases the court would be hearing. this is on voting rights, affirmative action and then in told me about a case. That's just as consequential put isn't getting the same amount of attention. Gonzales google, the cases about the power of algorithms, it's about whether companies, Google or twitter can be held responsible for crimes like terrorism. If one of their algorithm shows you a terrorist recruitment, video or a tweet from isis. Moral arguments for the case are today tuesday february twenty first no matter what happens during arguments. Scotus will rule on this summer and if they rule against Google it change the way we use the internet for ever so I asked industry
down with me ahead of oral arguments, so he could walk as to everything we need to know about the case, hello. How are you has gone good. I'm really glad to have you on the show. I tell people all the time like talking with you and going down lake rapid holes here is one of my favorite part of working here. Lay greeley like one of the best parts is its good place. Rabbit. Oh yeah really good place for that. So we're talking about this upcoming supreme court case Gonzales Vigo wall, but there's another case that factors into this idea of who is responsible for what's posted on the internet was well. Can you talk about that and give us the bay?
except that case too sure, so there are two cases: Gonzales v, google and twitter v tammany, and they basically involve the same issue. So the Google case involves a series of terrorist attacks in paris in two thousand and fifteen. There were isis led terrorists. Tax. One of the victims was an american student name, naomi Gonzales and her family is seeking to get some compensation for the loss of their relative. The other case, the twitter viii tammany case, is very, very similar. It involves the new year's day attacks in twenty seventeen in istanbul at night club wanted The victims was a jordanian national named, There was a loss of, and I apologise if I butchered that name, MR a loss, if I believe, has american relatives, they also brought a wall suit and in both cases they are making. The same argued
first of they are not suing isis inv the Gonzales case. They are suing google, because Google owns you in the twitter case, their suing twitter, facebook and google. When you again still earns you do, and the theory is that, because google and twitter and facebook did not immediately pull down on all the isis related content, where you knock ices posts videos on youtube, trying to recruit people and stuff like that that help spur the growth of isis, which made these attacks possible, and therefore Google, twitter and facebook are liable for the cost of these deadly attacks that killed these individuals, what sort of the thought process here this idea that google is responsible for this verses, You know isis itself right. It is an unusual legal theory. Like you, too, if I buy like afford truck and loaded up with explosives and go blow up a building with it
normally, you would ensue ford. I you couldn't for denied that situation. The hat that the plaintiffs are hanging there K sought is there's an anti terrorism law which says that if you aid in a bait, a terrorist attack by providing substantial assistance to Attack, then, you are liable for three times the cost of any damage that does to an american isis does lot of evil in the world and if Google, is liable for three times the cost of all the isis attacks, like that's, that's, potentially, an existential threat to google like this is a lot of money. We're talking about here, and the problem is lake. You know just as a person. who thinks about like moral responsibility like I sort of recoiled at the notion that, because you tube doesn't mean ITALY pull down every ices video or they are unable to immediately follow it. They
would be responsible for everything that I like. I recoil at that. But, as a lawyer, I went and looked at the statute, and it says substantial assistance and I went out a rabbit whole, trying to figure out what the term substantial assistance in gaza and in turn, hushed really ill defined relay out. So it is. This is a huge rabbit. Whole actual. I love, I that's part of the perks of the job going down rabbit. All's, these statutes said you can provide substantial assistance to a terrorist act. It then site this nineteen? Eighty three decision by a? U s: court of appeals in DC, as if you're trying to figure out what substantial assistance means. Look at this case. I looked at this case and it has a six factor test. That's all, if Prague, is a lot of frogs and they're really vague factors like one of them is just courts should like look at what kind of assistance the person provided they should look at if they were present or not, and it like just doesn't do a good job of answering the question.
The facts of the case was that there was a man a woman who romantic partners they lived together and The man would break into people's homes, often steel, precious metals and then, melt them down into bars and. the woman would then do like the business and clinical side like you know that the sky, were white sign of this operation. My name is schuyler white yo. My husband is walter white yo, and the question was whether the woman was providing substantial,
it's as dense to her burglar or partner, and I mean obviously the answer to that is yeah the outlook. I think we would all agree that that woman should be legally responsible for this whole operation, but, like that was an easy case. You know this Google case this twitter case. These are very much at the margins of what we might consider substantial assistance to be, and unfortunately the law doesn't do a good job of telling us what you do in these more marginal cases. its varied difficult. I thing for me to think of you know: google, as the body to ice his clyde in this sense. Do we now have this family came to sue? Google I mean often when I think of suits like this are suits that make their way to the supreme bored. I think of you, know these large entities behind them. Is this what's happening or is it you know just a family trying to find recourse, I mean. I don't know that there's any massive group behind these
enough say I mean you know these plainest suffered a terrible loss and I completely your stand why, in their grief, they want someone to be responsible for what happened. There lawyer? Is this sky arm Eric snapper? Who is an eminence of the civil right spar? He worked for the agenda, they speak legal defence fund for many years. He I think, ethics. Now a law press at the university of washington. He. wrote these seminal article. I mean I've relied on it in a peace. I wrote recently planing why affirmative action like if you look at the original intent of the people, wrote fourteenth amendment why affirmative action, something that they fought was constitutional. So, like you to visit this guy's a big deal and there
are really hefty policy issues here. So part of the plainest theory is that what you tube in twitter and facebook did they didn't just let isis stuff on their website. They also have these algorithms, which ye I mean we ve all you social media before like yeah, I I scroll on tiktok, quite a bit yeah yep. So, like you know, there's an algorithm that, like sort through all the millions of things that you could be seeing on social media at tries to predict what you want to say, and there are very legitimate arguments. If these algorithms have done serious harm on you, you know sociologists named odds. Zena de fetching has argued that the? U to bulgaria them in particular tends to surface more extreme version of whatever it is that you were watching. So you know, if you watch videos about jogging, will try to serve you ve. is about ultra marathons. If you watch a trump rally, you might get,
land rally and you know- and the concern is that there might be people who have particularly strong views of Islam, that thank you know many people would praise, but who aren't violent individual walls and you'd. Have this algorithm is then helping to radicalize them by serving them up contact that leads them towards vial yeah. I mean I think, of my own, internet existence and you it's nothing like. Oh, I will figure out how to do a cut crease on my make up, so I will again make videos than next thing you know of videos, keep popping up until you're seeing stuff about leg until it like it becomes try wife stuff and ride how to be more feminine. Unlike staying at home, in your leg, why is this being suggested? To me?
it is wanted to learn how to put on lashes- and I I just wonder like yes, there's these algorithms, but how much control do tech companies actually have here? I mean it's: it's well documented that they push the more extreme content, but that content has to get there in the first place, right So I think, there's two questions here. Every one is: is it actually possible for say youtube to pull down every isis video and I'm not a software engineer, but I am dubious that that it was actually possible for you to to you. You don't find every site we'll person associate with ices and immediately suspend their account before they're able to post a video like that. That strictly is difficult, technical problem to solve. If it is possible to build that kind of surveillance network, I dont think we want anyone to build it, but, like setting aside the question of whether you can pull the stuff down, I do think that it is reasonable to say that
Google is responsible for what youtube algorithm does like that. They have made choices, and you know the vacant tweak their algorithm. How they choose, the remedy. The being asked for in this case is pretty extry. I think it would be reasonable for congress to pass. lol. That lie tried to get you tube to come up with now go rhythm that doesn't radicalized people quite so much. I don't really think that google has been the most responsible company in the universe by it three times the cost of every american killed by isis. Like you did these sanctions that is passed gonna be imposed on Google here could be so great that it could amount to the death penalty for Google yeah. I am I think, of that. What sort of all these two companies, and you know I'm I'm not one to be like think of the business is like brown. That's that's not my emma ho, but
I do wonder: can companies exist if that's the level of responsibility are held to ETA mean vocs exist right, we publish gandhi and people can sue was all the time if we say something, defamatory are wrong or harmful, but this just it feels different with tech companies. For some reason, yeah I've been here think in any area of the law like proportionality is important, like you know if I decide to leave work, today and like go shoplift a pack of gum,
or something like? I should be punished for that like that is not something that I should do. I don't think anyone would think that I should be summarily executed for doing that. Like I mean the the the you know, we we want the legal consequences that the law doles out to be proportionate to the offense and part of what makes these cases hard. Is that, like the harm here is extraordinary, I mean you know, isis has done some terrible terrible things but I think it is a stretch to pay and like this much responsibility for these attacks on on google or twitter or unfair spock you and essentially these plainness, a region out and using a statute that was intended aid for, like you know, if I provide like a rocket launchers to a terrorist organisation, I think I should be responsible for anything that terrorist organisation does with that rocket larger. I think they, like this law, was intent.
for that sort of thing, and it is instead being invoked here for businesses. Proof hiding, something you don't to one set a very evil customers on the same terms that they provide it to like millions of other people on the planet. Hundreds of millions of other people on the planet tat sank. If I go out and buy a frying pan and I make skillet potatoes with it. In someone uses it to hit someone in the head with it, like those are very different uses that same frying, pan right and I may I will say that by there is one in port limit on the wall, which is that, if you see someone under it, they have Two knowingly have provided substantial assistance, the terrorist group- and you know that the plainest theory here is like look these sites like they had policy saying there shouldn't be terrorist content. They do pull stuff down steps. The government tells them to pull stuff down and like they knew that stuff was slipping through.
cracks, and they did it do enough, and I read I- I fully agree with these latest. It would be better if you two had managed to pull down every single bit of isis. Car delegation is not stuff that blogs on the internet, but again should the Finally, for that, be the extraordinary penalty that you know that the planets are seeking in this case next will dig into the legislation that gave us this legal argument
Hey there, I'm just mucho host of the pitch a show where real entrepreneurs pitch real tack, investors for real money, and this season gets a little saucy. We knew that we were not going to join the same old sauce game. We were going to disrupt one hundred and thirty billion dollar industry were coming after heinz. We. Founders, pitching everything from a better catch up to a solution for one of the biggest problems today. Energy in the future. The vehicles and garage is going to be like a giant power plant that can be used to reinforce a power grid, substitute fossil fuel power plants and allow more renewable energy on the network. This season, fourteen founders, with twelve ideas, big enough to change the world if the investors invest, I would like to invest in this around three hundred thousand dollars. New episodes every Wednesday see in the picture him
You may have heard of earlier about support for the programme today comes from Washington wise, its original pod chasm, Charles schwab himself. Decisions made in washington can impact the markets every day, but why policy changes. Should investors be watching Washington wise this original podcast foreign investors from trial schwann tracks the stories making news right now and breaks them down for the average investor host MIKE towns and charles schwab's. Managing director for legislative and regulatory affairs takes a non partisan. Look at the stories the matter most to investors. He explores topics like policy initiatives, retirement savings, taxes and trade, inflation fears, the federal reserve and how regulatory developments can affect company sectors and even the entire market. You can download the latest episode and follow at schwab, dot com, slash, washington, wise or conveniently where ever you listen
this is the weeds and we are back. There is a piece of legislation. That's a major key to all of this is called the communications decency act. It was passed in nineteen. Ninety six. What is the communication cities. the act in the first place, so the communications decency act. This is the law that is at the centre of the Gonzales case on before the supreme court the name of the law implies like the primary concern that congress had was base. It there's a lot of small on the internet and they wanted to do some things to control the spot on the entered at bile. I think they were
little into the other way kind of failed at that. But in the process of writing this law, they inserted this provision section two thirty, which is the most important provision of law in the history of the internet on our earliest. Arguably so I mean this is without this provision of law. The modern day internet could not accept slang. so to explain what it does and going have to take you your weeds times, ony back to nineteen nine, five, the got mail I'm thinking early days of the internet was this. When we had lake aol discs- and I was gone, into the library to print off leagues, from.
internet for some. This is exactly the hour we're talking. Okay, let's get into it. So aol like you, was one of these early dial up services where you could go on and there would be like chat rooms and there'll, be message boards, where you can talk to people and one of aol competitors was a company called prodigy. This was in nineteen. Ninety five, the great new technology was this thing called bulletin board where you could buy user die. what modem to go to aol or prodigy, or I think Compuserve was the third competitor and just chat about whatever you wanted to chat about at so prodigy had one of these bulletin boards, it was called money talk. It was beautiful people in shock about investing and stuff like that and and unknown person published a defamatory at least allegedly defamatory claim about a brokerage company called stratton oak mot and the question was: could prodigy be sued because it hosted a web page that
one could pose to add. Some one did some defamation on. They are on their web page and Ninety ninety five, those hard question so the way that the law worked. Ninety ninety five is most communications technology like if I write you a letter, defame, someone in the latter, whoever I fainted sue me. They can't see the post office of. If I, if I call you up on the phone, and I'll. Tell you something illegal like I could be sued by the phone company cannot be suit right. So that's how boast of law work with respect to communications companies and then an exception for like magazines and newspapers and other companies that sure eight contacts. So, like you, don't think about vocs media like everything that Here's on our website som. The editor has made a decision. That's gonna appear on the website. Like the reason I am told to you now on a ox media. Podcast is because, like people with decision
in authority at VOX media have made a decision to put ian millhauser on this show, and if you have that kind of curated content, the wall said that you could be held responsible so like. If I published that the gun VOX that defame someone, then that person can sue VOX media right, because you know fox made the explicit decision to put that on it's website the problem with things like prodigy into the the these early internet bulletin boards is, they kind of fell into a gray area between the phone benny and something like law. So the way that this money talk bulletin board worked if there was a moderator there were certain rules of like norms of interaction that the moderator would in force. I believe there was a bought that would remove like racial slurs and will remove your curse where and things like that. So there was a minimal amount of moderation, but nowhere near the type of adjuration. You would see it like a newspaper or magazine right at so. The question is which lie
this fall under any Your court said that this was just like a magazine once you do any kind of moderation at all, then you are rating your car. on tat, and you are liable for anything that is set and if that was the rule. The modern internet would not exist, yeah how this has shaped the internet. So much can t talk a little bit about like how like what did this create for us is a you know. Just it's such a different internet landscape than it was young back then. So I can bring this back around to the communications decency act like how did this provision duly with this. This prodigy case wind up in a law about spot on the energy ass. Essentially, what the prodigy case meant was it meant that if you ran a bulletin board you had have no moderation at all. It had to be anything goes, and if it means it has to be anything, goes that means of sullen posts, say
child pornography, you could pull it down. It means that, if someone just like logs odd in my sends a bunch of re slurs or something like that or or like it This being a noise like ivy approach, my age letter that here but like in the ninety nine. These howard stern, was a very popular radio, show any had this gag where they would like prank call people and say the word Bobby buoy over and over again why people say about that, and that is where Bobby we call my word of a boy at so like in the mid ideas like it's all was just trying to be annoying online. They might just like type the word bobby we over and over again in a chat room and then no one else can use it, because the only thing that you can see it is is baobab ui. That is very annoying. A very annoyed, and so congress wanted to make sure that these early internet chat rooms could exist and that they could engage in
the kind of moderation that I think we just view was normal. Now lay you either that the pornography comes down the racial slurs come down. The people are being annoying comes down and if the purpose of this chat rooms talk about investments, we we, that is what we are going to talk about, and so section two thirty just sought to make that possible to happen, and because section two thirty exists now we can have you two now we can have twitter. Now we can have all these sites anyone can post where they can you to engage in some amount of moderation. They can pull down, for example, the isis content right, but I, like you too, is not liable. If I post a video to you tube vat, the fame someone or that other wise veto could lead to a lawsuit. You know we ve
a long way from ninety? Ninety five? Ninety, ninety six? How have we seen internet policy of olive over time have have we seen internet policy evolve? I think a big reason why this cases is so troubling is: is that the internet policy has enough. I mean we're just doesn't pass. Big important statutes lie updating our internet policy to all the ways that the internet is change very often at so one way the internet is change released like one thing that congress did in anticipate when it wrote section two thirty is that all of these sites and prescribing you to twitter facebook? All of them don't just have you know a feature everyone can post, but if they want they also of algorithms right? And so now you don't were sort of in the same situation that exists in the prodigy case, where these algorithms existence
ray area you doing more than just publishing the content, letting anyone speak like the organ of the plaintiffs. Make in this case is like. If you tube sends me an ebay. Saying, hey! You should really check this video out. This video is awesome, video of someone it's an ice is video or to video of sovereignty. aiming somebody to legal in some way like you, too, would be responsible for making that commendation would be legally responsible for making that recommendation at. So their argument is that the algorithms are basically the same thing they're just there they're just like it. If someone made a decision to send you an email saying, hey check out this its content check out this defamatory video, what or or whatever you do an end, and that is a hard. Question immediate. It is genuinely unclear whether or not section two thirty applies to these algorithms just like. If you read the statute and try to be very far, all about it.
really smart judges have said that yeah, like section two thirty covers publication, but it doesn't cover these algorithms. The problem is that if it doesn't cover these algorithms, then you're looking at an existential threat to the modern internet I mean set aside social media. Think about what a search engine is. You do like it. It's just one big algorithm that recommed you know you'd like I enter a tour. and it recommends in order like here is the one thing that Recommend is like the the piece of content on the internet, most aligned with wet whatever search you at here's, the number two recommendations and so on and so forth, and if Google could be liable every time, it's algorithm, sir up a piece of illegal content. Like you know, let's say that I write a defamatory piece on vocs: someone enters a search term into
Oh and my defamatory peace come them like it's a google's fault that I defame someone. But if these plaintiffs are correct, google, it responsible, potentially because its algorithm made this recommendation, and if that's true, I dont know how search engines can exist at, and I dont know how you can have a functioning worldwide web without search engines. This makes me think of something that its fairly recent and pop culture, but carry be recently successfully sued. Oh you to blogger for defamatory statements like the idea of her not suing this logger, but suing google. Instead, rose it's just, but then again sometimes it does feel like these organizations. Wanna be news organisations like I think of facebook when they
making a bunch of news hires in it. It all feel so complicated and messy. I suspect that you know if the supreme court windup saying that, like there is basically an algorithm lou whole to section two thirty, unlike anything, that served up by an algorithm, can lead to a lawsuit against the company that manage that algorithm. I me one thing that I think potentially could have easily Google's gonna be a really attractive defendant me cause I envied. If I write big defamatory, if you say something defamatory on this podcast, someone can sue one of us and they can get all the money that we ve got in. Our bank account yeah you're, not gonna, get much unless you know right now, but yea. But if you do a Google Google's got deep yeah and so google search it in provides an important sir sir that I use that you use that hundreds of millions of people use and, like I think,
world is better because google search engine exists in it and if section two thirty is red narrowly, so that google and facebook and youtube and twitter all lose them also immunity. Yet we may lose these websites that form the backbone of our ability to communicate with one another is their potential for a slip? slope. Here I mean I know there is a difference between Google and say comcast or google and say amazon web services. But could it be argued like hey the things hosted this site these things, provided this is open. Companies up for more litigation absolutely opens up to litigation. I am ethic realistically if Google loses the suit it could play out in one of three ways so like want, is like Google just get sued all the time. I'm an like a cripples their business model,
oh and like they will have to change some significant way if they're still able to survive the second outcome- and there is a brief name Oh, you was on this brief and they said like look. If you tell Google their responsible for all the content that shows up on you too, but then my Google is going to engage in mass censorship and they're going to gauge and over broad censorship, because you know their concern is about making money like you do. If they're trying to block isis videos, they will bear certain key words from appearing and videos and like those may be key words that appear in all kinds of legitimate com.
turn that will now be pulled down so like the second alternative is just mass censorship. The third alternative- and this is, I think, that's the scariest thing- is that if you tell Google that it's got to find every single person who is a member of isis and prevent them from using it service, Google is arguably the most sophisticated gatherer of data about individuals that has ever existed. What happens if you tell them, they have to do it and they actually are able to build the kindest surveillance network that that can do that and then, once that surveillance network exists What else can be used for any? I think about, like me, and remote iii, the hindu nationalist prime minister of india, saying well. Ok, now that you can detect, you could sniff out people buy it ology, we want you to find all the muslim political activists in india and Google. If you, they continue to do business in india. You ve got up from that time. You think what rhonda santas would do. Think of
what vladimir Putin would do think about what she's doing ping would do if he could say as a condition gin of doing business in whatever the jurisdiction is that I preside over. You have to go find these people. For me I mean I, I do not want that technology to exist at all, What the courts to hand out a decision which tells Google that if you want it emu to be profitable. The best where you can do that is to build that thing after the break. What this could mean for the future of the internet. This is the weeds, we're talking to email heizer about Gonzalez Vigo on so in. We ve touched on this a little bit, but I wouldn't
to hear more about what you think this could mean for surveillance, like how big could this get one thing there's release need nice about. The united states government is that the united states government is confined by a constitution. So, like there's a first amendment, that means you can not target people the basis of viewpoint, so he could not say, like you know, we're going to survey democrats, not republicans or we're gonna savell. I don't know like lack national ass, you were going to survive, well, you insert whatever group the government once target here. There is also a fourth amendment which says that searches in seizures have to be read, ennoble you there are laws governing when wiretaps or allowed you to their laws governing. When warrants can issue the constitution does not apply to do I would like there are some privacy laws that govern google near some. U S, privacy laws,
govern, do other saw mom, there's some european laws that that govern google, but like we do. Historically, we have understood that at the government has a monopoly on the legitimate use of force and when you're talking about an entity that the powder the police and the army after you weedy to have greater restrictions on them, then a private company right, but the flip side of that is that if you give a company like Google a legal or financial incentive to build a massive surveillance network, whatever they build, is going to go far beyond anything. The gop, or at least legally, can go far beyond whatever the government is capable of doing because the government, ass to comply with the first and fourth amendment you that there are judicially enforceable strictures? Oh, what the government can do the strictures on Google are just so much weaker, but are the reason we're having some either
bates we're having right now about light censorship on twitter or lie, you think now when Donald trump was banned from twitter, for example like, I think, a big reason why a lot of people got mad about that is because of a twitter can't send the police after you, but twitter has, I think, more power over the discourse than any private entity that existed at all had fifty years ago, and you know Google has even more power and so there's a sense that these institute and they live in this zone, where you they're, not quite the government, but they can't send someone to forced their way into your home and shoot you if a if they don't like that that sub something that you're doing, but they also arts. A newspaper in ninety fifty two or something like that. You know these are companies that wheeled
an immense amount of power and had them in a bench capacity both for surveillance and to decide like you know what sort of content we see him a kind of content. We don't see and congress hasn't written a wall to deal with that. Writing that lobby very hard, because that law would have to comply with the first man right, and so I think you, the broader context that these cases arise in is that I think yo. Many many people, certainly I am- are really squeaked out by the amount of cultural power that companies like Google or facebook or twitter wheeled. But, like we don't know what the right legal regime is too,
with that congress as it attempted to come up with the right legal regime for it, and the idea that nine unelected lawyers in black robes. Looking at a statue, there was written in nineteen ninety six and an anti terrorism statute. That, like refers back to a burglary case from nineteen, eighty three is going to come up with it, not not just the ideal for ebooks, but was actually come up with a good framework. Yeah like strikes me a small, and I think the fundamental problem is that technologies aims. move much faster than government. Is you do I mean like the comments we have now is unusual dysfunctional lobby. Both congresses don't spend a week. You figure out how to elect a speaker yep, that's true, and it's arguable that it moves so quickly, because I mean I'm. This is not me being like boo regulation at all, but
There is an argument to be made that its able to move so quickly because of the lack of government intervention No, I mean that an that's fair and like I would like. I guess what I do if I have one take away from this. I think these questions are really really hard we'd because, like I think that my life is immeasurably better His google exists: do we know which way the court is leaning having the shooting so it is no because most of the judges just by ship coincidence like eaten and lower court judges of cheaply assigned random, leading to cases and most of the lower court judges who have heard these cases have been democrats or democratic point ease, and they
it's been pretty split, and some really really smart, really smart democratic appointees have said the tech companies should lose, at least on the section two thirty issue and robert Katz men who died recently, but was a very, very well regarded Clinton appointee. He came down on that side, a marshall burrs on who, before she became a judge, was would you believe the top, and certainly one of the top on the union side labor lit litigators in the country she came down against the tech companies to like these are these? Are smart judges that. I really respect, and you know all that they're doing is they're. Look at the statue and said well: this deals with publication. It doesn't deal with algorithm. So sorry guys this is split. The judges that that that have heard at the supreme court is real really conservative attitude of the media and justice on the supreme court is so far to the right of marcia birds. On that she probably can't see em.
and da. I just don't know I mean I don't know whether the court's gonna view this as a technocratic case or a political, hey, I don't know whether they are going to look at this. Like sometimes just look at a statute and they say well. This is what the word saying. We must rigidly follow the words of this law at sometimes they read the brief telling what the policy consequences are, if they do that, and they say why don't want that to happen, and I guess I haven't read enough opinions enough judges to really know where the fault lines are on the issue on this issue, especially on the supreme court in in big cases like this, the court often will rule very narrowly what's the potential here for narrow ruling or we can sort of see them kick, this can down the road, so to speak. Essentially everywhere, where would be the worst thing if they take the can down the road albacore see what comes up
arguments used. Justice kagan is a master of looking at cases and finding a way to say like oh, like it turns out. We don't jurisdiction over there goes away or, like? U turns out, this person filed the wrong document itself, at stage of of litigation. So why do we dispose? Like honestly? I think it would be wonderful if the supreme court the way to fight some piece of paperwork that wasn't properly file so that they could make these cases go away because, like I think we want to buy some time on you. You know. I I think that the questions about what should tech companies be responsible for how much of an obligation do they have to protect us from
content. That is genuinely dangerous. What sort of surveillance network sure we have? What should have censorship shoe is, should we have like those? Are the sorts of conversations that I think what we spend a lot of a lot of time talking about and the peace, involved in the conversation need to be more people than just the nine justices and whatever members of the supreme court bar filed filed a brief. In this case. The vision the sort of thing where, ideally, you would want congress to work at it You know in a way to find a solution that does what congress is supposed to do, bass, which is you draw upon the collective wisdom of the nation to fight to find a solution here I want to get into a sort of these non court solutions to this problem, so it sounds like you're saying we're likely not gonna see congress make a law
Why does it take so long, especially for congress to move on internet policy? It? It seems like there's always a conversation, but rarely things move. Congress is limited somewhat in it's own expertise. I dunno. If you remember, like I pick onset of centered richard Blumenthal, because Blumenthal is actually with the smarter members of congress, like erie clerk for supreme court justice, he's a he's a bright guy, I don't remember the fin stay hearing. Know people that there was a hearing about fences. Okay, so so do we need to explain it's like a fake instagram account celebrities have them a lot if there is a celebrity whose fins to I follow, I will not say who so that I don't get blocked, but yes, yeah. So finster is like basically a slang term. When you have like your mate, account, and then you have had other
that not everyone on your main account knows about right, and I think what happened was that like facebook, which owns instagram like one of their executives was testing testify afraid of congress, I think, would have some some parents had come forward at had said said like we don't like financed, is because it beads that, like Children can have happened, all my presence that we're not aware right and so Blumenthal. There was here s where he ass, the facebook executive. Will you commit to ending finster add. I think he teaches thought that fenster like the day of a product that yeah
yeah, oh and like ideally, the way that it would work is like you would get a committee of representatives together who actually really know a lot about tech policy and they would go out and gather info like it's not like congresses and is incapable of. Like solving hard problems, you know I lived through the affordable care act fight. You know it's just something that takes a lot of work. It takes. It takes a lot of work to define the problem. It takes a lot of work to gather the information you need to figure out
like what you should do and then, like the people action out there talking about, have to come to a solution, and then you have to get all the members of congress, or at least the majority of the members of congress who don't know what they're talking about to decide to vote for the bell. Again, that's just not a process that can happen all at the same speed. The tech companies are able to innovate. Yeah. I think, and it sounds like that's where the solution lies like tech companies seeing like. Oh, this is about to be issue. Let jump in front of it and make a policy or just the algorithm are do things so that we don't get sued. If it feels like the ball really is in their court. They have so much control, and you know addressing issues before they arise is great, but is this just how technology is gonna be for ever and ever like an issue rises up and before anyone can you anything about it. Companies just like hop in and be like. Ok, we'll find a way to fix it and its possible if there is a good solution like to the specific problem of, like isis being
the post videos on youtube- I mean, like people, can doc criminal transactions over the telephone. All the thai yeah add my. We don't have a solution to that problem. We could have a solution. To that. I mean that you know you. The phone company could like monitor every phone conversation that you have to see if you're talking about doing crimes, I don't do we want to live in that now nothing area and so lay it majors turn out that, like the cost of having this extraordinary communications technology that exist and twenty four twenty three is that sometimes that technology will be used by bad people communicate about terrible things, and maybe that's just the price we have to pay for having it and, if that's the case then by I guess the question becomes you do you hate isis so much that you're willing to ban you too? So this is going to be coming out the day that oral arguments, for this case begins, is
anything that you'll be listening out for looking for as long as the case unfolds only thing, I can do really is listened to the justices and try to count to five and I've been on. This issue I be like justice, Thomas has said- has route wrote an opinion where he said that would read section two thirty fairly narrowly, so thomas has signalled that my keys maybe a vote against the tech companies here, although he said that in a case involving a very different issue, but you know, he's got form our votes for that, our common really all I can do just listen to what the just to say and try to predict based on their questions, which way their leaning right well, I can't wait to read what you writing azure listening like so much thanks much for coming audience in throat not thrilled to be others, there's a that's all for us today
thank you to eat and male for joining me are producer, sophie le Monde, Christian ayala engineered this episode can edelstein fact checked. It are editorial directors am hall and I'm your host Joplin held the weeds as part of the vocs media podcast network, Yeah, let's get now really sexy, stuff gardener,
Transcript generated on 2023-02-23.