White House Asks FCC to Not Give Social Media Sites Immunity

A White draft order Protecting Americans from Online Censorship asks the FCC to restrict the government’s view of the good-faith provision. Under the draft proposal, the FCC will be asked to find that media sites do not qualify for the good-faith immunity if they remove or suppress content without notifying the user who posted the material, or if the decision is proven to be evidence of anticompetitive, unfair or deceptive practices.

This executive order could see the FCC and FTC significantly narrow the protections for under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Under the current law, internet are not liable for most of the content that their users or other third parties post on their platforms. Tech platforms also qualify for broad legal immunity when they take down objectionable content, at least when they are acting “in good faith.”

The White House says it received more than 15,000 complaints about censorship by the technology platforms. The order also includes an offer to share the complaints with the Federal Trade Commission.

The Federal Trade Commission would be required to open a public complaint docket and coordinate with the Federal Communications Commission on investigations of how technology companies curate their platforms and whether that curation is politically agnostic.

Under the proposed rule, any company whose monthly user base includes more than one-eighth of the U.S. population would be subject to oversight by the regulatory agencies. A roster of companies subject to the new scrutiny would include Facebook, Google, Instagram, Twitter, Snap and Pinterest.

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