OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU)
Social media had a very big day in Federal Court today about whether it should be held liable if terrorists use social media sites to practice their deadly craft.
The matter before the court: should a murdered woman's case against social media giants YouTube and Google be heard or dismissed?
Lawyers for the parents of Nohemi Gonzales, slain in the November 2015 Paris terror attacks are suing YouTube and its parent company, Google.
They charge that YouTube was complicit in the attack and deaths because YouTube repeatedly allowed ISIS and its supporters post many videos, sometimes with paid ads.
U.S. Magistrate Donna Ryu questioned both sides, but frequently challenged the parent's lawyers' claims.
"She was tough. She was hard on us. She obviously read all the ,material. I think she is going to carefully consider everything. She asked us the tough questions and, you know, I think we answered them as best we can and she's ultimately going to make a decision," said Keith Altman, one of the parents' attorneys.
Google is relying on the 21-year-old Communications Decency Act, a law was passed long before most social media even existed.
That law says that internet sites cannot be held liable for things said and shown that was provided by others.
"The things that we are seeing in terms of the way that the internet is being used, were not even imagined by the people that created that Communications Decency Act," said Robert Tolchin, the parents' other attorney.
The parents' lawyers argue that, in this new world of worldwide internet, YouTube should be held responsible for providing ISIS a platform it and its supporters have repeatedly used to practice and encourage terror attacks.
Google maintains that it is immune from that as well and that the Gonzalez case should be outright dismissed.
After two solid hours of questioning and hearing the lawyers, Magistrate Ryu took the matter under advisement for a later ruling that could be weeks or months away.
"It's clear from the judge's questions and that big book of cases that she had in front of here, that she's looked at this very carefully and she's going to look at it very carefully and I expect that she'll take as much time as she needs to write a scholarly, careful decision," said attorney Touchin.
Google's lawyers refused to comment before or after the hearing.
For the Google, Facebook and Twitters of the world, anything less than a dismissal of the case would encourage more and more mega lawsuits.
Congress also needs to re-examine the Act and, if it feels it should, make changes not contemplated when it was written; 5 years before 9/11.