Friday, 30 October, 2020

FCC will move to clarify key social media legal protections: Chairman

General News		FCC’s Pai Initiates Rulemaking to Clarify Section 230 for Social Media General News FCC’s Pai Initiates Rulemaking to Clarify Section 230 for Social Media
Cecil Davis | 18 October, 2020, 09:59

Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai said Thursday he will move to "clarify the meaning" of Section 230, the law which protects social media companies from being legally liable for the content their users post.

Separately, CNBC reported that Facebook and Twitter are likely to face questioning by US Senate Republicans after limiting distribution of an unverified New York Post story claiming to contain an email related to Democratic nominee Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

And today's debate was predated by President Trump's longstanding pressure on his administration to revisit the legal protections.

With that as background, Pai said that the agency's general counsel "has informed me that the FCC has the legal authority to interpret Section 230", and that he therefore meant to move forward with the Trump Administration's efforts to narrow the scope of the law.

Many legal experts and internet companies argue the FCC has no authority to issue regulations under Section 230. Social media companies have a First Amendment right to free speech. "However they don't have a First Modification proper to a particular immunity denied to different media retailers, comparable to newspapers and broadcasters".

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"The FCC can't rewrite acts of Congress to go well with its whims", Kate Ruane, senior legislative counsel on the ACLU, mentioned in an announcement. "Section 230 is vital to defending free speech on-line and the FCC has no authority to change it, particularly not in methods that may undermine free expression".

Under the proposed adjustments, social media platforms might be sued for something which might be deemed censorship comparable to fact-checking.

"The FCC has no business being the President's speech police", stated Democrat Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel.

Section 230 supplies a level of immunity to social media firms for the content material posted on their networks-together with the roughly three million Facebook posts and 474okay tweets per minute.

In May, Trump signed an executive order to limit Section 230's legal protections. In May, he threatened to regulate U.S. social media companies after Twitter fact-checked two tweets he made about mail-in voting that the company deemed misleading. "The U.S. Department of Commerce has petitioned the Commission to "clarify ambiguities in section 230.' And earlier this week, [Thomas] pointed out that courts have relied upon 'policy and goal arguments to grant sweeping protections to Internet platforms" that appear to go far beyond the actual text of the provision". Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey have agreed to testify before the Senate Commerce Committee on 28 October and are now set to be questioned about these moves after Republicans expressed concerns regarding alleged bias on the platforms.