Dozens of groups that are funded by Big Tech giant Google have been filing multiple amicus briefs with the Supreme Court of the United States, arguing in favor of Google ahead of a decision as to whether or not the company should be held accountable for content published on its various platforms.
According to the Washington Free Beacon, at least 40 such groups, including nonprofits, trade associations, and legal organizations with direct financial or personnel ties to Google have filed such briefs in the case of Gonzalez v. Google. These filings together make up at least one third of the total briefs submitted in the case.
The case focuses on the controversial Section 230, a law which shields Big Tech companies from liability for third-party content published on their sites. If Section 230 is ultimately overturned, companies would be far more susceptible to legal action for such content. A ruling against Google would make the company and all of its subsidiaries, including the video-sharing platform giant YouTube, more vulnerable to lawsuits in the future.
One prominent example of what post-Section 230 action against a Big Tech company would look like is the pending case of the family of a woman who was killed in the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, France. Her family argues that, because one of the terrorists involved was radicalized after watching an ISIS video on YouTube, the tech giant should have to pay damages to the family.
The Supreme Court does have a requirement in place ordering any corporations that submit amicus briefs to disclose any parent companies or public companies that own 10 percent or more of their stock, in order to present possible conflicts of interest; however, there is no such requirement for nonprofit groups. But Google’s efforts to fund nonprofits in return for such favors is well-documented nonetheless; last year, Google itself published a list of its “most substantial contributions,” which featured such groups as the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) and the Center for Democracy and Technology.
“These Big Tech shills are bought and paid for and should be in no way considered independent,” said Mike Davis, founder of the Internet Accountability Project. “The key to Big Tech’s strategy to fend off legislation, regulation, and damaging court rulings is their willingness to reach into their deep pockets and buy off critics.”
Oral arguments in Gonzalez v. Google will begin on February 21st.