Democracy in demise: Trump Administration puppet Ajit Pai says FCC will interpret Section 230

Today, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman and apparent Trump Administration puppet Ajit Pai released a statement saying the agency intends to “move forward with a rulemaking to clarify [Section 230’s] meaning.” Access Now and hundreds of concerned individuals from across the United States recently filed comments arguing the agency lacks authority to interpret Section 230, and that the debate over amending the statute belongs in Congress, which is directly accountable to the American public.

“The Trump Administration’s allies will stop at nothing to protect the president’s flagrant lies that seek to undermine political processes,” said Jennifer Brody, Legislative Manager at Access Now. “This is yet another attempt to prevent social media platforms from removing harmful hate speech and disinformation off their sites in this politically charged time. It is a disgrace and must be stopped.”

Chairman Pai has long rejected regulation and opposed presidents influencing FCC proceedings. A mere five years ago, he lamented then-Chairman Wheeler’s decision to reclassify broadband as a “Title II” service. Why? As Pai said in his dissent at the time, “President Obama asked the FCC to implement his plan for regulating the Internet, one that favors government regulation over marketplace competition. . . . [T]he FCC has been scrambling ever since to figure out a way to do just that.” Sounds familiar. Pai and his FCC are now “scrambling [to] figure out a way to . . . regulate the Internet” as President Trump asked. Pai has abdicated his principles.

“It is unbelievable that the FCC, an independent agency that recently completely deregulated broadband internet providers, is taking its cues from the president and will proceed with a rulemaking that could significantly degrade the First Amendment protections for people and the platforms they use,” said Eric Null, U.S. Policy Manager at Access Now. “We opposed, and will continue to oppose, this misguided and unlawful rulemaking.”