Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai on Thursday sent shockwaves through Silicon Valley when he announced plans to “clarify the meaning” of a law that protects tech giants from being held responsible for content posted by their users post.
Pai’s move follows explosive backlash to Twitter and Facebook for blocking links to The Post’s Wednesday exposé on Hunter Biden’s emails.
Republican lawmakers and President Trump on Wednesday cited the tech giants’ censorship of the article in calls for reform of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a 1996 landmark federal law that acts as a legal shield for online platforms from material posted by their users, allowing them to be treated more like publishers.
Supporters of reforming the law say tech giants should lose protections if they operate as a publisher rather than as a neutral platform.
“Social media companies have a First Amendment right to free speech. But they do not have a First Amendment right to a special immunity denied to other media outlets, such as newspapers and broadcasters,” Pai tweeted at 2:30 p.m.
“The Commission’s General Counsel has informed me that the FCC has the legal authority to interpret Section 230. Consistent with this advice, I intend to move forward with a rulemaking to clarify its meaning,” he added.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on Wednesday night called it “unacceptable” that his site blocked users from sharing links to the story without providing a clear message as to why it was taking the action.
Twitter has variously said the story, which relied on emails obtained from a computer-repair person who found them on a laptop, violated its policies on hacking and on displaying private information like email addresses and phone numbers without a person’s permission.
Back in May, Trump signed an executive order directing federal agencies to look at whether they can place new regulations on tech giants like Twitter, Facebook and Google, which owns YouTube.
“There’s no precedent in American history for so small a number of corporations to control so large a sphere of human interaction,” Trump said at the time, claiming that Twitter makes “editorial decisions.”
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