CTA: Social Media Regs Are Unlawful, Unwarranted, Unwise

A young woman with tape on her mouth using a smartphone.
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The Consumer Technology Association said the Trump Administration's attempt to regulate online platforms that host third-party content would send the message to other countries that the U.S. is willing to regulate speech "if it offends the politically powerful."

Related: CTA Slams Trump Petition

One of the most prominent and powerful of those would-be regulators is President Trump, who has long been pushing for social media regs, alleging censorship of speech, including his own.

Thursday (Sept. 17) was the deadline for reply comments on the Trump Administration petition to the FCC asking it to come up with a framework to regulate online content within social media's Sec. 230 immunity from civil liability over most of that third-party content.

In its follow-up comments, CTA said rewriting Sec. 230, as it argues the President's petition (filed with the FCC by the National Telecommunications & Information Administration) does, would dismantle that key Sec. 230 protection.

"At a time when the American government is drawing a sharp contrast between U.S. technology leadership and Chinese online censorship, moving forward with this Petition would send the wrong message: that America, too, is willing to regulate speech when it offends the politically powerful," CTA said. "The record comprehensively demonstrates that moving forward with the Petition would hurt U.S competitiveness, violate the Constitution, and far exceed FCC authority."

In its initial comments, CTA had already called the petition a "constitutional grenade," using terms like "disastrous," "dangerous" and "unworkable."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.