Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court was faced with two lawsuits against Internet giants. These cases are Gonzalez vs. Google and Twitter vs. Taamneh. In both cases, the internet giants were sued by families of victims of terrorist attacks for spreading propaganda about terrorism and the Islamic State.
Both cases are based on the liability of technology companies for material posted on their platforms by their users. In Google’s case, the company’s YouTube platform recommended videos from the Islamic State terrorist group based on a preset algorithm of similar content. The case involving Twitter was similar, with the platform recommending videos of a terrorist organization on the basis of an algorithm.
However, a law called the Communications Decency Act of 1996 protects defendant companies from similar lawsuits. Section 230 of the Act absolves website operators of liability for content uploaded by users.
In both cases, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the protection of website operators and, by implication, the free dissemination of information.
Within the EU, similar legislation can be found in Directive (EU) 2015/1535 of the European Parliament and of the Council. In the Czech Republic, the obligations arising from the Directive are embodied in Act No. 480/2004 Coll., on Certain Information Society Services and on Amendments to Certain Acts. Based on this law, website operators can be held liable for content posted by users, but only if they could have known about its illegality. At the same time, however, the law provides that providers are not obliged to actively monitor the information posted or to search for illegal content.