Press Release | October 19, 2020

Online Speech Crackdown Will Choke America's Innovation Economy, CTA Says

Jennifer Drogus
The following statement is attributed to Michael Petricone, senior vice president, government and regulatory affairs, Consumer Technology Association (CTA)®, regarding efforts to regulate online providers that host third-party content under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. 
“We are deeply disappointed in the announcement by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai that the agency will begin a rulemaking on Section 230. As CTA emphasized in its comments to the FCC, neither the National Telecommunications and Information Administration nor the FCC has the authority to rewrite the law – in our system, that is the job of Congress. Nor does the FCC have the authority to impose new, heavy-handed disclosure requirements on online platforms – a fact the FCC itself recognized in 2017. 

“A better way forward is to embrace policies that encourage – not those that seek to impede – American innovation. Thanks to Section 230, American companies are the world’s top choice for entertainment, communications and commerce—but that all could change. Cracking down on Section 230 and internet speech would deal a severe blow to U.S. competitiveness and innovation. It would hamper our free exchange of ideas and entrepreneurs’ incentives to take risks. 

“Importantly, government regulating online free speech is an unconstitutional affront to the First Amendment. It is resonant of systems like China’s, where the ability to speak online depends on government approval and whim. It would lead to the government picking ‘winners’ and ‘losers’—dictating what speech algorithm is too conservative or too liberal. This is not the American way. 

“A ‘hands off’ approach to the internet exemplified by Section 230 is precisely what distinguishes the U.S. from other countries and enables our success. We should embrace our approach, not seek to emulate other countries who have much more regulation and fewer successful approaches to innovation.”