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It's better than nothing -- especially given that Biden has been so vocal against Section 230 -- but last week, Biden rescinded Trump's ridiculous executive order about Section 230.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 It's good that Biden rescinded the order, though it was way too late.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.

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Filed Under: adam candeub, ajit pai, donald trump, fcc, joe biden, nathan simington, nist, section 230


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 May 2021 @ 12:26pm

    Sometimes, one good firing deserves another...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    TKnarr (profile), 17 May 2021 @ 12:27pm

    At least in the process Pai managed to botch it badly enough to give the Biden administration the perfect basis for rolling back Pai's policy changes related to network neutrality and restart the evaluation process from scratch.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 17 May 2021 @ 1:01pm

    Can I get "radical leftist Biden promotes child pornography"...

    with that? Or a similar reflexively ejected hairball placed in the extreme right goal corner? It just isn't the same without it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 May 2021 @ 7:51pm

    Section 230 needs to be updated so that individuals have recourse against someone weaponizing search engines against them.

    Reputation is a constitutional right in most of the world. It is one in the US only if harm to reputation leads to a second, constitutional harm (which it now does).

    If SCOTUS wanted to affirm Section 230 they'd have done so a long time ago.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 18 May 2021 @ 12:02am

      Re:

      "so that individuals have recourse against someone weaponizing search engines against them."

      They do. Section 230 doesn't stop you going against those individuals.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Toom1275 (profile), 18 May 2021 @ 12:56am

      Re:

      Section 230 needs to be updated

      [Asserts facts not in evidence]

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 May 2021 @ 3:59am

      Re:

      individuals have recourse against someone weaponizing search engines against
      them.

      So... how about those individuals not acting in a way that facts about them could be weaponized via search engines?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 18 May 2021 @ 7:45am

      Re:

      someone weaponizing search engines against them.

      I'm sure you have some examples of this actually happening in real life for those who would like to better understand this serious and widespread issue. Right? You wouldn't just make stuff up and put it in a comment would you?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 18 May 2021 @ 2:01pm

        Re: Re:

        IIRC, he's pushed some sob story before about a supposed acquaintance who had to put up with some crap because someone they had history with tried defaming her online. Which, according to his tiny mind, means that the entire search engine infrastructure of the internet needs to be destroyed because it's too hard to go after the person doing the actual defamation.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Rocky, 19 May 2021 @ 1:46am

          Re: Re: Re:

          The more likely scenario is that he behaved in his usual fashion and someone wrote something unflattering about him because of it.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 May 2021 @ 1:02pm

      Re:

      "If SCOTUS wanted to affirm Section 230 they'd have done so a long time ago."

      They did. Remember how there was this whole law called the Communications Decency Act and literally everything except Section 230 was declared unconstitutional? No, I'm sure you don't.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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