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IA Details Profound Issues With Changes To Section 230 Proposed In NTIA’s Petition For Rulemaking In FCC Reply Comments

“The petition jeopardizes platforms’ ability to write and enforce their own community guidelines and keep their users safe, while simultaneously stifling the ability of individuals and small forums to operate.”

Elizabeth Banker, Deputy General Counsel

Washington, DC — Today, Internet Association (IA) filed reply comments with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Petition for Rulemaking on Section 230. IA’s latest filing urges the FCC to deny NTIA’s petition because the Proposed Rules pose significant dangers to a wide range of stakeholders including internet users and small businesses. Contrary to the petition’s purported goal, the Proposed Rules would restrict free expression online and hinder platforms’ efforts to keep harmful content off their sites. IA filed its initial comments on the petition earlier this month.?

“A broad range of small business entities and individuals rely on Section 230 to innovate, communicate, and grow, and the Proposed Rules endanger the entire internet community,” said Elizabeth Banker, IA Deputy General Counsel. “The petition jeopardizes platforms’ ability to write and enforce their own community guidelines and keep their users safe, while simultaneously stifling the ability of individuals and small forums to operate. The FCC must deny the petition to preserve myriad ways for people to express themselves online and ensure safe online experiences.”

IA’s reply comments present the following key arguments to outline the petition’s threat to the entire internet ecosystem:?

  • The petition will negatively impact a wide range of small businesses and community forums that rely on Section 230. From the filing:
    • “Contrary to NTIA’s assertions in its Petition, many commenters agree that the Proposed Rules would harm vibrancy and diversity in the online ecosystem by introducing steep new barriers to entry and negatively impacting startups and small companies.”
  • The Proposed Rules would prevent internet users, bloggers, volunteer forum moderators, and many others from curating their small sites, forums, and pages.?
    • “Section 230’s structure makes it clear that there are no distinctions in either (c)(1) or (c)(2)(A) between the protections that apply to providers and those that apply to users. The Proposed Rules clearly lack an adequate basis for drawing such a distinction, and without that distinction, they stand to create new limitations on the ability of individuals to curate their own websites, blogs, discussion groups, and other online content without facing new liability risks.”
  • The NTIA petition “shows a concerning misunderstanding” for how Section 230 works at present. From the filing:
    • “However, the Petition contains very few facts and shows a concerning misunderstanding of how content moderation works today and the many challenges it poses for [interactive computer services]. With an accurate understanding of content moderation, it is clear that Section 230’s protections remain as relevant today as they were when the law was drafted.”

To read the full filing, click here.

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