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Thousands of AFP Activists Urge FCC to Reject Section 230 Executive Order

Sep 1, 2020 by AFP

Arlington, VA – Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFPF) today submitted a regulatory comment to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau in opposition to the Petition for Rulemaking recently filed by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) regarding Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. The legal comments from AFPF were filed alongside more than 2,000 comments from activists with Americans for Prosperity (AFP) – AFPF’s sister organization – opposing the government placing dangerous standards around online expression. Read the full comment from AFPF here.

AFPF’s legal challenge to the petition focuses on 6 key points:

  1. The FCC has no authority under the Communications Act to regulate under Section 230, in which Congress speaks unambiguously.
  2. The NTIA misreads the current state of the law and bases its Petition off a fictitious legal landscape.
  3. NITA’s request for transparency rules would require the FCC to classify social media as information services, which is outside the boundaries of the Petition.
  4. There is no statutory authority for NTIA to petition the FCC.
  5. Granting NTIA’s petition would threaten the success of the Commission’s Restoring Internet Freedom Order.
  6. This Petition is simply bad policy that would significantly disrupt free speech and commerce online.

Americans for Prosperity Foundation Policy Counsel Eric Bolinder issued the following statement:

“NTIA’s petition misreads the law and mistakes the role of government. People, not the forums they use, are responsible for their words and actions. Attempts to force the operators of online services to undertake the impossible task of policing all interaction on their platforms are ultimately counterproductive and will result in less speech and commerce online. Removing key liability protections will open American innovators and entrepreneurs to a flood of lawsuits, creating impossible barriers to entry for new competitors. Thousands of concerned Americans have made their voices heard on this issue and we are proud to stand behind them.”

AFP condemned the administration’s executive order when it was initially released in May. Last Summer, AFP joined 53 academics and 27 civil society groups in laying out 7 principles for lawmakers to consider when addressing intermediary liability laws. For additional context, read Easley’s op-ed on digital free speech in The Resurgent.

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