Platforms

Our working definition of a digital platform (with a hat tip to Harold Feld of Public Knowledge) is an online service that operates as a two-sided or multi-sided market with at least one side that is “open” to the mass market

Biden’s FCC must attend to cybersecurity, 5G development, and data-gathering issues that Trump’s FCC ignored

Three institutional and strategic problems that President Joe Biden’s Federal Communications Commission will have to resolve:

The House Gavel in Charge of Section 230 Reform

The House Commerce Committee now officially labels the hot-button issue of Section 230 under the jurisdiction of its communications and technology subcommittee, which is chaired by Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA). During the previous Congress, Commerce 

The Constitution Can Crack Section 230

Relying on Sec 230, tech companies increasingly pull the plug on disfavored posts, websites, and even people. Online moderation can be valuable, but this censorship is different. It harms Americans’ livelihoods, muzzles them in the increasingly electronic public square, distorts political and cultural conversations, influences elections, and limits our freedom to sort out the truth for ourselves. But does the 1996 Communications Decency Act really justify Big Tech censorship?

Facebook and Apple Are Beefing Over the Future of the Internet

Apple CEO Tim Cook gave a speech explaining his company’s upcoming privacy changes, which will ban apps from sharing iPhone user behavior with third parties unless users give explicit consent. And he made plain that these new policies were designed at least in part with Facebook in mind.

Facebook seeks a new head of US public policy

Facebook is looking externally for a new US policy chief as it moves Kevin Martin, a Republican and former Federal Communications Commission chairman who now holds the job, to lead the firm's global economic policy team. Facebook is moving on from the Trump era in which Republicans held most of the power in Washington and Facebook was particularly eager among tech companies to forge warm relations with GOP policymakers.

Sen Wyden's prospects for the 177th Congress: Privacy, Section 230, and Broadband

In an interview with Politico, Sen Ron Wyden (D-OR) describe his plans for the 117th Congress. Some highlights:

Lawmakers say the attack on the Capitol has generated more support for tougher regulation of social media companies

Many Democrats, as well as some Republicans, want to take on Big Tech with laws and regulations to address issues like market power, data privacy, and disinformation and hate speech. Those ambitions have only grown since the insurrection of Capitol Hill, with more members of Congress pointing to the power of the tech companies as the root cause of many problems. The growing talk of new federal laws adds to the industry’s many headaches. Facebook and Google are fighting federal and state regulators in court over allegations of anticompetitive conduct.

Commerce Department nominee advocates for Section 230 reform

Gov Gina Raimondo (D-RI), President Biden's nominee for Commerce Secretary, is pledging to use the tools at her disposal to pursue Section 230 reform, saying that she hopes to hold social media companies "accountable" for misinformation. "I would agree we need some reform on Section 230," said Gov Raimondo during her confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Commerce Committee.

Social justice groups warn President Biden against throwing out Section 230

A group of 75 activist groups and nonprofits have urged against sweeping changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, warning that it could silence marginalized communities while making online moderation harder. “Section 230 is a foundational law for free expression and human rights when it comes to digital speech,” the letter says.

House Commerce Ranking Member McMorris Rogers Proposes Big Tech Action Plan

House Commerce Committee Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) outlined a plan for fellow Republican members to hammer Big Tech companies. The "Big Tech Accountability Platform” serves as both a rallying cry for Republicans in the minority and an outline for some policy changes that could win bipartisan support. McMorris Rodgers suggests working with Democratic lawmakers on an agreement to sunset or establish a reauthorization date for Section 230 as a legislative starting point.