Federal Judge Hears Suit Against Google Over ISIS YouTube Videos

OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — The family of a California college student who died in the 2015 Paris terror attacks wants justice, claiming Bay Area tech companies helped kill her.

YouTube videos showing ISIS warnings about attacks on France started about a year before the violence.

Terrorists murdered 130 people in Paris in November 2015. Nohemi Gonzalez, a 26-year-old student at Cal State Long Beach, was one of those victims who was studying abroad.

Attorneys Keith Altman and Robert Tolchin represent the Gonzalez family. They’re suing Google as the parent company of YouTube.

“ISIS could not function without social media,” said Altman. “It would be 50 guys standing in the desert jumping up and down, chanting around a fire. ”

The case is based on a federal law that says victims can sue anyone who gives “substantial assistance” to a terrorist.

“Social media sites including Google allow ISIS to use their sites to conduct terrorist operations,” argued Altman. “To raise money, to radicalize individuals. To plan and conduct terrorist operations.”

But websites like YouTube have a special weapon. Another law says website owners cannot be sued for what other people put on their site.

“They don’t have to police it. They could take it down. They could leave it up,” said Altman. “They can do whatever they want and they are immune for any kind of repercussions for that. It’s a get out of jail free card! ”

Google used this special immunity to ask a federal judge to throw out the Gonzalez lawsuit. At a hearing Thursday in Oakland, Judge Donna Ryu seemed ready to side with Google.

“This was tough. She was hard on us,” said Altman.

Lawyers for Google refused to comment, but if the judge dismisses the case, the plaintiffs say they will appeal.

“I just want them to act reasonably, just like you have to act and I have to act,” said Altman. “We have to do what we can reasonably do, and they simply don’t because they believe they’re immune.”

The judge did not say when she’ll issue a ruling, she can take as long as she needs to make her decision on the case.

More from Melissa Caen
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