Chairman Ajit Pai Statement on Section 230

After Facebook and Twitter took action to limit the distribution of New York Post’s story on Hunter Biden e-mails and the enormous backlash it created against those social media platforms, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai releases the following statement [PDF file]:

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai’s statement on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

“Members of all three branches of the federal government have expressed serious concerns about the prevailing interpretation of the immunity set forth in Section 230 of the Communications Act. There is bipartisan support in Congress to reform the law. The U.S. Department of Commerce has petitioned the Commission to ‘clarify ambiguities in section 230.’ And earlier this week, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas pointed out that courts have relied upon ‘policy and purpose arguments to grant sweeping protections to Internet platforms’ that appear to go far beyond the actual text of the provision.

“As elected officials consider whether to change the law, the question remains: What does Section 230 currently mean? Many advance an overly broad interpretation that in some cases shields social media companies from consumer protection laws in a way that has no basis in the text of Section 230. 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.

“Throughout my tenure at the Federal Communications Commission, I have favored regulatory parity, transparency, and free expression. 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.”

In addition to Chairman Ajit Pai’s statement, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said Thursday that the Senate Judiciary Committee plans to subpoena Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey.

Republican senators are calling on Dorsey to testify on October 23rd to give him a chance to explain the decision to limit the spread of New York Post articles about Hunter Biden and why it shouldn’t be viewed as an attempt in election interference.

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