Amend Section 230? Not Trump’s call

September 2, 2020 — Access Now submitted comments to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) condemning President Trump’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration petition that asks the FCC to reinterpret Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Section 230 protects internet platforms from liability for user-generated content, while empowering them to moderate the content they host.

President Trump’s petty interference with the FCC comes after an ongoing tug-of-war with Twitter, that included the social media giant adding fact-check language alongside one of his dubious tweets — leaving the original message untouched — that spread false information about mail-in ballots.

The FCC should not humor President Trump. Access Now urges the agency to dismiss the petition outright because it is unconstitutional and the FCC lacks authority. The FCC is not the right forum to decide whether and how to amend Section 230. That debate belongs in Congress, where reforms to the law are currently under consideration.

“We cannot allow President Trump to turn Section 230 — the ‘legal backbone of the internet’ — into his personal tool for silencing dissent and for advancing voter suppression, disinformation, and hate,” said Jennifer Brody, Legislative Manager at Access Now. “Everything from our public health to the very foundations of our democracy depend on it.”

“The FCC lacks authority here, full stop,” said Eric Null, U.S. Policy Manager at Access Now. “But this sideshow was never about whether the FCC had authority, it was about bullying social media companies into silence and about playing to the president’s base. The FCC should simply not engage in this exercise any more than it already has. I fear even putting this petition out for comment has already caused irreparable damage to the internet ecosystem.”

Read Access Now’s full comments here.