Siding with Google, a federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit accusing the company of enabling terrorism by allowing the group ISIS to post clips on YouTube.
U.S. District Court Judge Donna Ryu in the Northern District of California ruled that the Communications Decency Act protects Google from suits seeking to hold it liable for posts by users.
The lawsuit dates to last year, when family members of Nohemi Gonzalez sued Google, Twitter and Facebook. Gonzalez was killed in the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris. The family previously dropped the complaints against Twitter and Facebook.
The Gonzalez family alleged that ISIS used YouTube for a variety of purposes, including recruiting terrorists. The family argued that a 2016 law, the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, effectively revised the protections spelled out in the Communications Decency Act. The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act provides for civil lawsuits against people who "aid and abet" terrorists.
Ryu rejected the family's argument, writing that the more recent law "evinces no 'clear and manifest' congressional intent to repeal any part" of the Communications Decency Act.
Federal judges have recently dismissed several other lawsuits by terrorist victims and their families against social media platforms.
In May, a judge in New York dismissed a lawsuit that sought to hold Facebook responsible for terrorist attacks in Israel. And last year, for example, a judge in California ruled that family members of people killed by ISIS couldn't proceed with a suit against Twitter. The family appealed that ruling to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is currently considering the case.
Despite those rulings, terrorist victims are continuing to bring new suits against tech companies. Most recently, last week relatives of two people killed in the July 2016 terror attack in Nice, France, sued Google, Facebook and Twitter for allegedly assisting terrorists. And in May, family members of three people killed by a terrorist in San Bernardino, California have sued Twitter, Facebook and Google for allegedly their platforms to be used for recruitment and fundraising by ISIS members.
Google and other tech companies recently launched a new anti-terrorist initiative aimed at removing extremist propaganda while promoting "counter-speech" efforts. The companies also recently said they will file European rules requiring review and potential removal of most "hateful online content" within 24 hours of notification.