The Pai FCC Is Oddly Quiet About Trump's Plan To Have The Agency Police Speech

from the selective-silence dept

So last week, you probably saw the leaked plan by the Trump administration to try and "fix" the nonexistent censorship of Conservatives on social media. According to the leak, a large part of the plan would involve having the FCC, which has no real authority in this area, police speech on platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Most legal experts I've spoken to say the plan is illegal and utterly nonsensical, and the FCC has no authority to do this under Section 230 or anywhere else. The order would also undermine most of the logic the Pai FCC used in its effort to repeal net neutrality.

Oddly though, an FCC that has been very vocal on this subject when convenient has been oddly mute since the story broke, with none of the agency's three Republican Commissioners (Ajit Pai, Brendan Carr, or Mike O'Rielly) making so much as a peep about the terribleness of the latest Trump "plan."

This kind of silence is uncharacteristic. O'Rielly, for example, was positively apoplectic recently when he proclaimed (falsely) that community broadband posed a dire threat to free speech. Carr has similarly expressed great disdain previously at the idea of government regulating speech on social media platforms, and hyperventilates over telecom sector free speech rights any time someone even faintly suggests giants like Comcast should be held accountable for decades of abysmal service:

Then there's Pai, who attacked net neutrality extensively by insisting it was the equivalent of the Fairness Doctrine, the exact type of solution Trump is now proposing for social media. Pai has routinely tried to play both sides of this debate, insisting he's a stalwart defender of free speech, yet demonizing platforms like Twitter for nonexistent censorship when it makes for a good sound byte. He's also repeatedly stated we can't possibly hold bumbling monopolies like AT&T and Comcast accountable on the state or federal level because it would violate their First Amendment rights (a belief those companies share).

All of this endless hand wringing over free speech, and yet when the President of the United States says he wants to use the FCC to police speech on social media (again with near zero authority to do so), all three of these free speech patriots are suddenly quiet.

And while you could argue that they didn't comment because the plan hasn't been made official yet, that didn't stop them from loudly deriding a similarly undercooked, leaked plan by the Trump administration to nationalize the nation's 5G networks. That plan was largely just the lobbyist brain fart of a Peter Thiel-backed company named Rivada Networks (supported by folks like Karl Rove and Newt Gingrich), yet Carr, O'Rielly, and Pai all had plenty to say about the unworkability of that plan (largely because such a plan is AT&T and Verizon's worst nightmare).

The trio's fellow commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel offered up what was probably the most concise reaction to having the FCC police Facebook and Twitter:

As many have surmised this could all amount to a giant hill of bupkis. The administration may have just been floating a trial balloon that has now, clearly, popped. After all, in the Trump era you can never tell what's serious policy and what's the passing brain fart of whoever has the President's ear at one particular moment.

Still, you'd think a trio of FCC Commissioners who proclaim to be champions of free speech would have had something to say about the plan given the scale of its stupidity. Yet they've refused to issue any comment whatsoever after more than a week. It's almost as if they're not actually being ideologically consistent, and are remaining mute simply out of blind partisan allegiance and support of Trump's clearly idiotic plan to blame social media for the fact that many people just can't stop being grifting assholes on the internet.

And while there's certainly plenty of very real problems with Facebook and Google (especially on the privacy front), it's been kind of overlooked in tech policy circles that a lot of the animosity in DC toward "big tech" right now originates with telecom giants eager to elbow in on Silicon Valley online ad revenues. It is, as they say, always about the money.

Filed Under: 1st amendment, administrative law, ajit pai, anti-conservative bias, bias, brendan carr, donald trump, executive order, fcc, free speech, michael o'rielly, policing speech, social media
Companies: facebook, google

Reader Comments

The First Word

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Aug 2019 @ 7:01pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Lies on top of lies? I knew you were a liar but this is pathological.

    Alright everyone, take your seats. Class is in session!

    Point one is orthogonal

    You're the one who said they were behind the challenge. Since the public docket clearly shows more than just the dominant firms, your statement is a lie.

    point two is asserted without evidence.

    Well, I mean: g.php?q=net+neutrality

    Entire rest of the internet

    You were saying something about a lack of evidence?


    You have something on your face there, it's kind of yellow and clear and runny.

    False. doesn't magically enable DNSSEC on domains that don't use it.

    Except, nobody was talking about DNSSEC. I do believe I said "encrypted DNS", in other words, DNS over TLS. You know, that thing that encrypts your computer's DNS requests to a DNS resolver? That thing that actually does once you configure your computer to use it? does essentially nothing.

    Well I personally use it as my DNS resolver so it at least does DNS request lookups. But aside from that, as already stated, it also does encrypted DNS over TLS, and once you configure your computer to use it, your ISP has no idea what DNS requests you are making.

    BGP & DNS experts in the public interest sector have agreed with me on this point.

    Oh, those must be the ones in your head. The ones that disagree with ACTUAL BGP and DNS experts.

    How to

    Major destinations such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon are not hidden by Cloudflare

    Correct. They are big enough to have their own similar protection mechanisms that, shocker, work similarly. Or they are big and rich enough to buy enough IP addresses for all their sites. This really doesn't prove anything.

    virtual hosting is only used by low-traffic sites.

    So basically only the majority of web. Got it. Or are you going to insist that the majority of the web is made up of high-traffic websites?

    When you visit a site protected by a gatekeeper like Cloudflare, it's still possible to identify it from the external references it makes.

    Did you miss the part where I said it doesn't completely hide your browsing? Encrypted DNS is but one tool/step in keeping your browsing history private. But your claim was that it did "nothing" at all. That, is a bald faced lie.

    Title II was written for telephone services.

    No, Title II was written for common carrier services, which is exactly what ISP internet service is. Not to mention Title II is applied to other things that are much further away from telephone services than internet service is.

    I've done podcasts with the people who actually wrote the Title II revisions

    Really? And who would those be?

    I've read the Act.

    This remains to be seen. Your ability to read has been called into question numerous times.

    I'll stick with my evidence over your conspiracy nut fantasies.

    The evidence that exists solely in your head? I mean the act and its revisions kind of directly contradict your statements.

    Open-ended polls on the Internet issues of highest concern to voters put NN way down the list

    Ah ah ah, no goal post moving here. We're not talking about what particular political topic is of "highest concern", we're talking about what people think about one specific topic. And on that topic, the majority are in agreement, net neutrality is a good thing.

    The push polls that purport to show deep support for NN

    You mean almost every single poll on the subject? Besides, you don't have to take my word for it: Net Neutrality Polls

    don't fool elected officials

    Then I take it you don't count most Democrat Senators and Representatives, as well as some Republicans across the aisle, as "elected officials" then?

    because they misstate what NN actually does and doesn't do.

    Oh do tell.

    Pai's CIO told him it was a DDOS attack. That was wrong, but it is what he was told.

    Ah ah ah, I said no goal post moving. We aren't talking about Pai, we're talking about you. And YOU claimed that it WAS an attack and there was no proof to the contrary. In fact, you even gave your full support to, and quoted, said same CIO, who was later proven to have lied.

    You have cited some analyses that are over your head,

    The only thing over my head is how you can double down on your lies, knowing that I can refute EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. with easily available information and links to documented proof you are wrong.

    but none of these are lies.

    As I've just shown, they all are. And I've even provided links to prove it.

    Thanks for the laughs, Utter Coward.

    I still have no idea who this "Utter Coward" is you are referring to. As my name clearly states, I am "Anonymous Coward".

    Class dismissed.

    Try again Richard.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.