CNN reported today that the White House is drafting an Executive Order that would give both the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) the power to judge what speech should and should not appear online. The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) condemns this reported effort to vastly expand government regulation of speech online.
“The reported content of this Executive Order raises enormous constitutional issues,” said Emma Llansó, Director of CDT’s Free Expression Project. “There is no legal requirement that social media companies apply any sort of ‘neutrality’ when they decide to remove content. Congress spoke clearly in Section 230 of the Communications Act, and the President cannot unilaterally change the law enacted by Congress through an Executive Order.”
“More importantly, no part of the government can dictate a vague standard of ‘unfair content moderation’ and use it to punish websites for exercising discretion in deciding what speech to host. An Executive Order giving the FTC such powers would raise significant First Amendment issues and would be quickly challenged in court,” Llansó said.