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FCC Chair Ajit Pai says new rules are coming for Section 230

In a statement Thursday, Pai said he plans to "move forward" with rulemaking to clarify Section 230's meaning, citing "serious concerns" about tech platforms' liability protections coming from all corners of government. Later this month, the Senate is set to grill the heads of Facebook, Twitter, and Google about Section 230, and just this week, Justice Clarence Thomas issued a scathing rebuke of the law, urging the court to take up a case on the statute.

Pai alluded to these lines of criticism in his statement, writing, "As elected officials consider whether to change the law, the question remains: What does Section 230 currently mean? Many advance an overly broad interpretation that in some cases shields social media companies from consumer protection laws in a way that has no basis in the text of Section 230."

The FCC's decision to take up rulemaking on the law extends back to President Trump's executive order on Section 230, which instructed the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to petition the FCC to do just that. This summer, the FCC asked for public comments on the order and received a flood of opposition from the tech industry.

The FCC's review of Section 230 also provoked strong reactions from at least one of its sitting commissioners, Jessica Rosenworcel. "This is not a provision where Congress specifically asked us to enact rules, nor has the FCC had a history of acting in this area," Rosenworcel told Protocol in September. "While the agency might have authority, I think proceeding in the manner that the president has pushed in the executive order is a reach too far."

Pai disagrees, writing in his statement, "The Commission's General Counsel has informed me that the FCC has the legal authority to interpret Section 230."


'Woke tech' and 'the new slave power': Conservatives gather for Vegas summit

An agenda for the event, hosted by the Claremont Institute, listed speakers including U.S. CTO Michael Kratsios and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

The so-called "Digital Statecraft Summit" was organized by the Claremont Institute. The speakers include U.S. CTO Michael Kratsios and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, as well as a who's-who of far-right provocateurs.

Photo: David Vives/Unsplash

Conservative investors, political operatives, right-wing writers and Trump administration officials are quietly meeting in Las Vegas this weekend to discuss topics including China, "woke tech" and "the new slave power," according to four people who were invited to attend or speak at the event as well as a copy of the agenda obtained by Protocol.

The so-called "Digital Statecraft Summit" was organized by the Claremont Institute, a conservative think tank that says its mission is to "restore the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life." A list of speakers for the event includes a combination of past and current government officials as well as a who's who of far-right provocateurs. One speaker, conservative legal scholar John Eastman, rallied the president's supporters at a White House event before the Capitol Hill riot earlier this month. Some others have been associated with racist ideologies.

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Emily Birnbaum

Emily Birnbaum ( @birnbaum_e) is a tech policy reporter with Protocol. Her coverage focuses on the U.S. government's attempts to regulate one of the most powerful industries in the world, with a focus on antitrust, privacy and politics. Previously, she worked as a tech policy reporter with The Hill after spending several months as a breaking news reporter. She is a Bethesda, Maryland native and proud Kenyon College alumna.

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