FCC wants clear and strict rules for social media

Joanna Estrada
October 18, 2020

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has issued a statement, saying he will proceed with a rulemaking to clarify the meaning of the Communications Decency Act's Section 230, which outlines the legal immunity provided to internet platforms distributing third-party content.

"So terrible that Fb and Twitter took down the story of "Smoking Gun" emails associated to Sleepy Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, within the @NYPost. In keeping with this recommendation, I intend to transfer ahead with a rulemaking to make clear its that means". The original executive order by President Trump in May said the companies have gone beyond that "good faith" in their efforts to remove objectionable content, that they were starting to stifle free speech and showing "political bias". "However they don't have a First Modification proper to a particular immunity denied to different media shops, similar to newspapers and broadcasters", Pai tweeted at 2:30 p.m.

Geoffrey Starks and Jessica Rosenworcel, two of the FCC's Democratic commissioners, don't support Pai's call, and indeed some observers pointed out that the FCC itself has no say in the matter. FCC president Ajit Pai announced this, after repeated insistence by U.S. president Donald Trump to change the rules for companies like Twitter.

Added Public Knowledge: "The FCC does not have authority to "clarify" Section 230 - it is not a statute that Congress gave the agency any authority over whatsoever", said John Bergmayer, legal director at Public Knowledge.

In September, Trump nominated Nathan Simington, a senior administration official who was involved in the social media petition, to a seat on the FCC, and last week Trump urged for a quick confirmation vote. That mentioned, Biden has himself referred to as for repealing the protections Section 230 affords social media platforms. Final month Lawyer Normal William Barr despatched draft laws to Congress that might restrict the protections below Section 230.

The U.S. Department of Commerce has petitioned the Commission to "clarify ambiguities in section 230.' And, earlier this week, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas identified that courts have relied upon 'policy and objective arguments to grant sweeping protections to Internet platforms" that seems to go far past the precise textual content of the availability. Those tweets made false claims about mail-in voting, which is how the USA elections will be carried out in November.

Still, Senate Republicans called for Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to discuss what they call censorship of the story. "The Senate Judiciary Committee wants to know what the hell is going on". Without that protection, Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and YouTube could face endless lawsuits by people who said they were defamed in comments on the platforms.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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