January marks the anniversary of a series of coordinated protests that led to the withdrawal of two proposed laws in the United States Congress: the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA). SOPA-PIPA showed the power of collective action, rooted in shared values, to shape the future of the internet. In the decade since the SOPA fight, new issues have risen based on the development of new innovations in technology and the challenges that they create.
Section 230 of the Communications Act has been dubbed the “twenty six words” that created the interactive free expression of the internet: No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider. This simple piece of legislation provides immunity from liability as a speaker or publisher for providers and users of an “interactive computer service” who host and moderate information provid
President Trump used social media to encourage his supporters to storm the Capitol to attempt to maintain his power.
Public Knowledge announces that it will not accept funding from Facebook for any of the organization’s programs or initiatives. The decision follows a June 1 meeting between Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg and civil rights leaders to discuss the company’s choice to leave up without moderation comments made by President Donald Trump, including one in which he posted, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” in reference to protests over George Floyd’s death. Twitter, meanwhile, labeled the content with a disclaimer that it “glorified violence.”
If the coronavirus pandemic has taught the technology and communications policy world anything, it is that policymakers have utterly failed to meet the mission of the National Broadband Plan. Although the National Broadband Plan provided a road map and initially tracked progress, we have seen a relatively nonpartisan tech policy space abandon consensus views on the technicalities of the network and the importance of universal service principles.
Public Knowledge supports the creation of a new regulatory agency dedicated to protecting consumers from the consequences (intended or unintended) of tech platforms. The creation of a new agency must be done carefully and with purpose. This agency must have a clear charge from Congress to analyze the entire diverse landscape of tech platforms, not just the dominant firms. The agency must be well stocked with experts in technology, markets, online communications and influence, community building, and the law, and should be empowered with clear rulemaking authority.
There is a new political reality in Washington. A Democratic Party takeover of the House of Representatives has created divided government again. We can only hope that the newly divided government can create the space for clear action to meet our challenges. Both parties are now truly responsible for governing, and although many of the moderates have retired or been defeated, the needs for protection-creating policymaking is felt equally in the most conservative and liberal districts. There’s also hope that the influx of new members brings a class of younger, tech-savvy legislators.
[Commentary] We may have lost the vote at the FCC, but the fight isn’t over yet. Now it moves to two new venues, both of which will require public support. Chairman Pai may have ignored millions of Americans, but he can’t ignore Congress. Members of Congress have the ability and the authority to quickly reverse Chairman Pai’s unprecedented rulemaking through a law called the Congressional Review Act (CRA).
Today, Public Knowledge sent a letter to the Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-SD) and Ranking Member Bill Nelson (D-FL) urging Congress take steps to close the digital divide by promoting investments in broadband deployment and competitive, affordable broadband choices for consumers.
Chris Lewis said, “It is time for policy makers to get serious about solutions to close the digital divide and invest in connecting families to basic, affordable communications services. Consolidation and the status quo have failed to deliver the promise of broadband to all Americans. Congress must prioritize smart infrastructure policies that bring competitive choices, affordable connectivity, and economic opportunity to us all.”
Twice broadband providers have looked to the DC Circuit to stop net neutrality rules. Twice they have been told that a Title II based framework is the correct way to have strong rules and the FCC is empowered by Congress to do so. Now these trade groups are asking the DC Circuit yet again. There is broad consensus support for strong net neutrality rules, making this just another doomed attempt for trade groups to ignore millions of Americans. It’s time for these trade groups to move on -- net neutrality is here to stay.