Rosenworcel said it would make FCC ‘speech police’
D.C. players were quick to weigh in on President Donald Trump’s planned executive order targeting social media and what White House and Republicans had asserted was censorship of conservative speech.
“This does not work,” said FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. “Social media can be frustrating. But an Executive Order that would turn the Federal Communications Commission into the President’s speech police is not the answer. It’s time for those in Washington to speak up for the First Amendment. History won’t be kind to silence.”
Asked about the executive order, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr told Yahoo! Finance that “Twitter paid apologists are putting out a lot of misinformation” on the issue. He said “bad faith” takedowns are not protected and it makes sense to let the public weigh in and say “is that really what Congress meant when they provided those special [Sec. 230] protections.”
“I’ll review the final Executive Order when it’s released and assess its impact on the FCC,” said FCC commissioner Geoffrey Starkes, “but one thing is clear: The First Amendment and Section 230 remain the law of the land and control here. Our top priority should be connecting all Americans to high quality, affordable broadband. The fight against COVID-19 has made closing the digital divide—and helping all Americans access education, work, and healthcare online—more critical than ever. We must keep our focus on that essential work.”
CCIA president Matt Schruers says the executive order, if it follows the outlines of the draft, would be the un-American action.
“Social media services are engines of free expression for all political identities, and Internet users, including the President, can choose from a variety of platforms to express their views,” he said.
“All Americans should be concerned to find a U.S. president issuing executive orders in response to a company that challenges the veracity of his statements. Social media companies — and all Americans — have an inviolable right to comment on what our government says. Ultimately we have to ask: are we a nation that tolerates its President retaliating against private companies for questioning his words?
“Retaliation against the private sector for fact-checking leadership is what we expect from foreign autocracies, not the United States. If consistent with current reports, this order would be profoundly un-American and a blight on our free speech traditions.”
“We the people built our nation on laws. Laws that protect speech, laws that promote innovation, laws that guarantee our freedoms will flourish forever,” said Chip Pickering, CEO of INCOMPAS, whose members include Twitter, Google, Amazon, Facebook and a laundry list of other tech giants. “Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is the law of the land for a reason. It gives all people the ability to raise their voice, promote their ideas and create new businesses online.
“Since the dawn of our democracy, promoting free speech while protecting our citizens from harm has always been a collective responsibility that is already enshrined into the 230 law and should not be changed. Social media is an American made engine for economic growth and opportunity. The Executive Order threatens to hurt innovators and small business on Main Street who depend on social media the most.”