CCIA Cautions FCC On Taking Actions Outside Its Legal Authority

September 2, 2020

Washington — The Federal Communications Commission is receiving comments until Wednesday in response to an NTIA petition for a rulemaking through which the FCC would assert greater control over online speech, by narrowing Section 230 of the Telecommunications Act. The action follows an executive order from President Trump in May aimed at pressuring social media companies to curb moderation of objectionable content.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association expressed concern in its comments about the FCC turning into the online speech police and noted the FCC did not have the legal authority to issue this rulemaking.

As some digital services have been moderating hate speech, disinformation, and other objectionable content more aggressively amid the pandemic and ahead of the election, the Administration has objected, calling for altering Section 230, which ensures that digital services will not be subjected to liability for efforts to mitigate everything from abusive and hateful content and public health-related misinformation, to anti-American disinformation spread by foreign actors.

The following can be attributed to CCIA President Matt Schruers:

“We urge the FCC to resist political pressure to assume the role of Internet speech arbiter, which is well beyond the scope of its authority. At a time when digital services are responding to public health misinformation and disinformation from foreign actors designed to sow dissent ahead of an election, the U.S. Government should be fostering those efforts, rather than discouraging them.”

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