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Trump Promise Kept: Administration Acts To Protect Americans Against Online Censorship

Zuckerberg Testimony
Yesterday, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany released a statement announcing the Department of Commerce, as directed by President Donald J. Trump’s Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship, filed a petition to clarify the scope of Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act.

The petition requests that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) clarify that Section 230 does not permit social media companies that alter or editorialize users’ speech to escape civil liability. The petition also requests that the FCC clarify when an online platform curates content in “good faith,” and requests transparency requirements on their moderation practices, similar to requirements imposed on broadband service providers under Title I of the Communications Act.  President Trump will continue to fight back against unfair, un-American, and politically biased censorship of Americans online.

Per Ms. McEnany’s announcement, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) filed a petition for rulemaking with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on behalf of U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross seeking to clarify regulations related to section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

The petition was filed in response to the May 2020 Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship. It calls on the FCC to make clear when online platforms can claim section 230 protections if they restrict access to content in a manner not specifically outlined under the Act.

“Many Americans rely on online platforms to stay informed and connected, sharing their thoughts and ideas on issues important to them, which can oftentimes lead to free and open debate around public policies and upcoming elections,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “It has long been the policy of the United States to foster a robust marketplace of ideas on the Internet and the free flow of information around the world. President Trump is committed to protecting the rights of all Americans to express their views and not face unjustified restrictions or selective censorship from a handful of powerful companies.”

The petition also seeks further clarity from the FCC:

Whether, and to what degree, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act provides protection for social media’s content moderation decisions

The conditions under which content moderation and editorial decisions by social media companies shape content to such a degree that section 230 no longer protects them

Social media’s disclosure obligations with respect to their content moderation practices

 A link to the petition can be found here.

As the Free Speech Alliance said in a recent letter to Google, how many more times will Big Tech censor conservatives, and then lie about it, before the government must take action?

We applaud the fact that President Trump and Secretary Ross agree with us that the time has passed for lame excuses from Big Tech. The Commerce Department petition is a good first step, however, absent Congress acting decisively to counter the threat to freedom of speech from Big Tech companies, it’s time for the federal government to also consider antitrust solutions for companies like Google and the rest of the Big Tech industry that have grown too powerful and too irresponsible.

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