News -- September 2, 2020
INCOMPAS to FCC: If You Shut Down Section 230, You Shut Down Competition
WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 2, 2020) – INCOMPAS, the internet and competitive networks association who represents social media edge providers, streaming services and broadband builders came out in strong opposition to the Administration’s attempt to pressure the Federal Communications Commission into modifying and interpreting Section 230.
The highly unorthodox move by the Administration resulted in a Petition for Rulemaking submitted by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to the FCC that threatens to significantly limit the legal protections granted to online content providers.
In its Section 230 comments to the FCC, INCOMPAS is warning of the risks to online competition, free expression, innovation and investment. Highlighting First Amendment rights, INCOMPAS points out that FCC action would run counter to both Congressional intent and the Commission’s own precedent.
In addition to the FCC filing, Chip Pickering, CEO of INCOMPAS, released the following statement:
“Now more than ever, we should be investing in the tools that grow our economy, not threatening to shut them down. The internet gives voice to all corners of America, it is the beacon of hope for innovators with new ideas. Asking the FCC to regulate our words would box in our future and make it harder for small businesses to compete and inspire.”
Key lines from the INCOMPAS Section 230 filing include:
- In addition, granting NTIA’s Petition would place the FCC in an illogical position of regulating the content of online services, but not the BIAS services that deliver these edge services.
- NTIA’s Petition would micromanage the way online platforms operate and invite trial lawyers to second guess every decision to organize, rank, recommend, or remove content. Free speech also means the freedom for private companies to decide what content they want to carry.
- Granting NTIA’s Petition will be felt far beyond these platforms, and arguably even more by smaller and emerging online companies. If the FCC moves forward with NTIA’s Petition and adopts regulations, it would be much harder for new entrants to meet the regulatory requirements, which could harm availability of new online services for consumers as well as new competitive entry and investment.
- Startups and smaller businesses that fear endless lawsuits and financial liability for the content on their websites and significant uncertainty of FCC oversight in complying with its content moderation rules may be prevented from entering and competing in their respectable markets.
- FCC is not the legislative body. The changes the Administration seeks for Section 230 are up to Congress, not the FCC.
- NTIA is asking the FCC to intervene where the statute already has been interpreted by the courts, which overall have been interpreting Section 230 responsibly.
- It would be illogical and quite odd for this FCC to regulate online content and services of all types, which are far removed from the Commission’s experience and expertise, but not to regulate BIAS that is used to deliver those services.