Pallone Doyle Ajit Pai FCC Section 230 Trump Social Media Order

USRepMikeDoyle/YouTube (Fair Use) Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC-BY-SA) Rep. Frank Pallone Jr./YouTube

Democrats tear into Ajit Pai for moving ahead with Trump’s social media order

Democrats called Ajit Pai's decision a 'reckless and politically-motivated stunt.'

Oct 19, 2020, 11:20 am*

Tech

Andrew Wyrich 

Andrew Wyrich

The lawmakers who oversee the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the House of Representatives tore apart Chairman Ajit Pai‘s decision last week to move forward with President Donald Trump’s controversial social media executive order that targets an important internet law.

Advertisement Hide

Last week, Pai announced that the FCC would move forward with a rulemaking process after Trump's order asked the agency to "clarify" Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

Advertisement Hide

The law shields websites from being held liable for content posted on them by users and has been called "one of the most valuable tools for protecting freedom of expression and innovation on the internet."

Ahead of Pai's announcement, the FCC collected public comments about whether to move forward with Trump's order. The agency was flooded with comments from both those who supported Trump's order and those who opposed it.

Advertisement Hide

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and Communications and Technology subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D-Penn.) said Pai's decision made the FCC a "political appendage of President Trump's campaign."

The Energy and Commerce Committee holds oversight hearings for the FCC, and their outcry joins a chorus of others from last week including Democrats at the FCC and tech advocates. Many experts have warned that changes to Section 230 could have far-reaching consequences online.

"The timing and hurried nature of this decision makes clear it’s being done to influence social media companies’ behavior leading up to an election, and it is shocking to watch this supposedly independent regulatory agency jump at the opportunity to become a political appendage of President Trump’s campaign," Pallone and Doyle said in a statement on Monday.

The two lawmakers added that they hoped for a reform of Section 230 that "creates a structure for healthier online ecosystems" but the FCC's decision to move forward just weeks before the 2020 election shows that is a "reckless and politically-motivated stunt."

Advertisement Hide

While Trump's order moving through the FCC has taken up much of the attention surrounding Section 230, it is far from the thing in Washington, D.C. that is targeting the law.

Both Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden have called for Section 230 to be repealed or revoked, and there are a growing number of bills in Congress that seek to change or reform the law.


Read more about the FCC

Either way, 2020 could end the net neutrality fight foreve
Read the heartbreaking complaints Americans sent the FCC after their internet was shut off during the pandemic
FCC doubles down on net neutrality repeal in partisan vote
One opinion Ajit Pai is ignoring on Trump’s social media order? His own
Democrats tear into Ajit Pai for moving ahead with Trump’s social media order

Share this article
*First Published: Oct 19, 2020, 11:14 am