Commerce Department Files Petition to Clarify Liability Protections for Online Platforms and Protect Against Censorship

WASHINGTON – Today, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) filed a petition for rulemaking with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on behalf of U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross seeking to clarify regulations related to section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

The petition was filed in response to the May 2020 Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship. It calls on the FCC to make clear when online platforms can claim section 230 protections if they restrict access to content in a manner not specifically outlined under the Act.

“Many Americans rely on online platforms to stay informed and connected, sharing their thoughts and ideas on issues important to them, which can oftentimes lead to free and open debate around public policies and upcoming elections,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “It has long been the policy of the United States to foster a robust marketplace of ideas on the Internet and the free flow of information around the world. President Trump is committed to protecting the rights of all Americans to express their views and not face unjustified restrictions or selective censorship from a handful of powerful companies.”

The petition also seeks further clarity from the FCC:

Whether, and to what degree, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act provides protection for social media’s content moderation decisions

The conditions under which content moderation and editorial decisions by social media companies shape content to such a degree that section 230 no longer protects them

Social media’s disclosure obligations with respect to their content moderation practices

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