FCC Puts Trump Edge Reg Petition Out for Comment

(Image credit: Future Media)

The FCC has put out for public comment the Trump Administration's request that it come up with a regime for regulating social media and other Web site content to prevent what the President said is anti-conservative bias. 

It will give the Public 45 days to comment. 

The National Telecommunications & Information Administration last week filed the petition--at the direction of the President's executive order.

Related:  Trump Officially Seeks Help to Regulate Edge 

FCC will give stakeholders 45 days to ponder Sec. 230 petition

“Today, the FCC's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau will invite public input on the Petition for Rulemaking recently filed by the Department of Commerce regarding Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996," said FCC chair Ajit Pai.  

Commission Democrats have argued the FCC should steer clear of regulating the edge at the President's behest, but Pai was suggesting that would be denying the public its due.  

Related: Senate to Vet Edge Provider Liability Bill 

"Longstanding rules require the agency to put such petitions out for public comment ‘promptly,’ and we will follow that requirement here," said Pai. "I strongly disagree with those who demand that we ignore the law and deny the public and all stakeholders the opportunity to weigh in on this important issue. We should welcome vigorous debate—not foreclose it. The American people deserve to have a say, and we will give them that chance. Their feedback over the next 45 days will help us as we carefully review this petition.”

The petition filed by NTIA, the President's chief telecommunications policy adviser, is directed at Sec. 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which provides websites like Facebook and Google immunity from civil liability for most of the third-party content they host on their sites.

"Congress intended section 230 to address this difficult liability problem, but nothing in the law’s history, purpose or text allows for the conclusion that internet platforms should avoid all responsibility for their own editing and content-moderating decisions," NTIA said.

Republicans argue that some social media platforms have exploited that immunity to quell speech they disagree with.

NTIA's petition said the FCC should "use its authorities to clarify ambiguities in section 230 so as to make its interpretation appropriate to the current internet marketplace and provide clearer guidance to courts, platforms, and users."

"NTIA urges the FCC to promulgate rules addressing the following points:

1. "Clarify the relationship between subsections (c)(1) and (c)(2), lest they be read and applied in a manner that renders (c)(2) superfluous as some courts appear to be doing.

2. "Specify that Section 230(c)(1) has no application to any interactive computer service’s decision, agreement, or action to restrict access to or availability of material provided by another information content provider or to bar any information content provider from using an interactive computer service.

3. "Provide clearer guidance to courts, platforms, and users, on what content falls within (c)(2) immunity, particularly section 230(c)(2)’s “otherwise objectionable” language and its requirement that all removals be done in “good faith.” 

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.