At a glance.
- Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship.
- Business implications of China's extension of national security law to Hong Kong.
President Trump signs Executive Order concerning social media.
Yesterday US President Trump signed an Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship intended to address ways in which social media are applying "selective censorship that is harming our national discourse." It addresses Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which affords civil liability protection to online service providers that act as "neutral platforms" as opposed to "editors." The Secretary of Commerce will lead a "petition for rulemaking" to clarify Section 230. Federal agencies will evaluate spending on platforms that engage in "viewpoint discrimination," and the Federal Trade Commission will investigate unfair trade practices related to content moderation.
Among the points that stand out in the order are its observation that the protections in Section 230 were designed, narrowly, to provide certain protection for minors. It also emphasizes the Act’s provision that restrictions on content be done in “good faith.” And it asks the Federal Trade Commission to take a close look at social media companies’ outsourcing of content moderation to third-parties that themselves arguably engage in viewpoint discrimination.
The Order is widely viewed as a response to the President's recent experiences with Twitter. At issue is the difficult question of what counts as a neutral supplier of a service and what counts as being a publisher with responsibility for content. Thus should Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter be treated like sellers of newsprint or like newspapers, like a telephone company or like a television station.
Business implications of China's extension of national security law to Hong Kong.
Hong Kong will resist imposition of Chinese national security law, an essay in Foreign Policy argues, but this is thought unlikely to prevent the quasi-independent city's full integration into the Chinese system. This means not only the foreseeable bad news for human rights and legal protections in the city, but as the Federal News Network observes, also a significant diminution of the outsized role Hong Kong plays in international trade.