FCC Chairman Quietly Abandoned Attempt To ‘Clarify’ Section 230


Illustration from article titled FCC Chairman's Quiet Abandonment Attempt to Clarify Section 230

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About 5 million years ago back in October, Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Council, pledged to “move forward with regulations” to “clarify” Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a key legal shield that protects online platforms from responsibility for certain types of content posted by users. However, apparently, he quietly let time pass on these shots.

Now, less than three months later, Pai says he’s no longer planning to follow through because, wouldn’t you know, he’s just running out of time. Damn. (Pai’s resign from the agency Jan. 20 before Biden’s incoming administration could give him the boot).

“I have no intention of going ahead with the FCC Settlement Proposal Notice,” he said. Protocol Thursday, explaining that “there is simply not enough time to complete the administrative steps necessary to resolve the rule making.”

Of course, he may have also let those plans fall through the cracks because the FCC did not have legal authority follow up with them in the first place.

A fool decree on social networks that President Donald Trump released in September tasked the FCC with restricting Section 230 and investigating websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, and YouTube to identify suspected anti-conservative bias. Trump’s demands came after an explosive tantrum – even for him – about social media platforms checking his posts.

If done, this reinterpretation of Article 230 threatened to break the internet in all kinds of ways. At least in theory. Namely, it would essentially set up the Republican-controlled FCC to remove Section 230 liability protections from any platforms that Trump believed discriminated against conservatives, thus leaving those platforms vulnerable to litigation. for moderation of content posted by users. The point is that the FCC does not have the power of A) regulate the Internet to this extent or B) rewrite federal legislation willy-nilly.

It should be noted that with the Democrats now in Senate control, President-elect Joe Biden stands ready to fast Track his nomination for the next FCC chairman and potentially overturn Pai’s most controversial policy decision: kill net neutrality protections that prevented Internet service providers from limiting access to online content or charging more for using certain sites.

Pai’s remarks came during an interview on C-SPAN’s “The Communicators” that aired over the weekend in which the president also strongly condemned Wednesday’s attempted insurgency in DC that left at least four people dead. He called the violent scene that erupted on Capitol Hill “outrageous and extremely disappointing to those of us who cherish American democracy.”

And although Pai largely refrained from publicly commenting on the president’s antics during his tenure, he chided Trump for spreading baseless election conspiracy theories that shouldn’t have been “lenient.”

“I think it was a terrible mistake to suggest that the results of the election, and in particular the process that culminated yesterday in the Senate and the House, could be altered in any way,” he said. -he declares. “It was a terrible mistake and I don’t think in any way that it should have been abandoned.”


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