FCC Seeks Comments on Trump Plan to Weaken Internet Firms’ Liability Protection

The Federal Communications Commission will take comments for 45 days on President Donald Trump’s proposal to weaken liability protection for social-media companies such as Twitter Inc., the agency’s chairman said.

The step ensures the that administration’s request will get a hearing before the independent agency.

Both members of the FCC’s Democratic minority have objected to Trump’s request. For instance, Commissioner Geoffrey Starks earlier said the administration “has not made the case that Congress gave the FCC any role” in interpreting the law around online social media.

“We should welcome vigorous debate — not foreclose it,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a tweet. Pai, a Republican, said that the law required the agency to take comments and that he strongly disagreed “with those who demand that we ignore the law and deny the public and all stakeholders the opportunity to weigh in.”

On Monday, Starks tweeted: “Perhaps when comments are in we can package up the whole docket and send it over to Congress — where this debate belongs.”

Trump issued an order in May seeking the petition, and an arm of the Commerce Department filed documents last week requesting FCC action.

Technology industry trade groups and some legal scholars have said the president’s move was unlikely to survive legal challenge. The companies say they get complaints from conservatives and liberals alike and don’t favor either side.

Top Photo: Tied to Twitter. Photographer: Bloomberg/Bloomberg.