Biden Revokes Trump's Silly Executive Order On Section 230; But It Already Did Its Damage
from the too-late dept
It’s better than nothing — especially given that Biden has been so vocal against Section 230 — but last week, Biden rescinded Trump’s ridiculous executive order about Section 230. As you may recall, almost exactly a year ago, Trump issued an absolutely insane executive order demanding the FCC reinterpret Section 230. As we noted at the time, this made no sense, as 230 was written with the explicit admonition that the point was to keep the FCC out of the business of regulating the internet.
At any point in the process, those involved in the federal government could have stood up to Trump and said that everything about the executive order was a joke and ridiculous. But, nope, that’s not how things work apparently. NTIA, which was in the process of being handed over to a lawyer whose mission in life seems to be to lie about and destroy Section 230 (partly to favor his white nationalist clients), followed through on Trump’s demands, and petitioned the FCC to reinterpret Section 230.
Then, Ajit Pai had every opportunity to do the right thing and say that this was way outside of the FCC’s jurisdiction — as he had years earlier before Trump even knew what Section 230 was. Instead, he let the charade play on, wasted everyone’s time and energy in needing to explain to Pai why the FCC had no authority… and then ignored all of the legal precedent and every ounce of whatever principles he supposedly had, and agreed to do a rulemaking on 230. Of course, what might have suddenly drained Pai of any basic decency was the fact that when his colleague Michael O’Rielly actually spoke the truth, Trump fired him. O’Rielly came out of this nonsense with principles, while Pai came out of it looking like a Trump lapdog with no principles whatsoever.
Pai only finally ditched the idea right after January 6th when everyone was focused on the insurrection on Capitol Hill, and he realized that he could dispose of the news while Trump’s attention was elsewhere.
Still, the whole thing was a huge waste of time, and has completely polluted the dialogue about Section 230 with utter nonsense. It’s good that Biden rescinded the order, though it was way too late. Meanwhile, the author of the original executive order, Nathan Simington… got O’Rielly’s vacant seat on the FCC, guaranteeing that the two Republicans on the Committee are now anti-1st Amendment, anti-Section 230.
Trump didn’t end up getting the FCC to issue a reinterpretation of Section 230, but he still did a ton of damage to the dialogue around Section 230, with tremendous help from Adam Candeub, Nathan Simington, and Ajit Pai.