A draft executive order from the White House could put the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in charge of social media censorship. The FFC has a disgraceful record on the subject of internet freedom. It recently showed totally disregard for the
rights of internet users when siding when big business over net neutrality.
Donald Trump's draft order, a summary of which was obtained by CNN, calls for the FCC to develop new regulations clarifying how and when the law protects social media
websites when they decide to remove or suppress content on their platforms. Although still in its early stages and subject to change, the Trump administration's draft order also calls for the Federal Trade Commission to take those new policies into
account when it investigates or files lawsuits against misbehaving companies.
US media giants have clearly been showing political bias when censoring conservative views but appointing the FCC as the internet censor does not bode well.
According to the summary seen by CNN, the draft executive order currently carries the title
Protecting Americans from Online Censorship . It claims that the White House has received more than 15,000 anecdotal complaints of social media platforms censoring American political discourse, the summary indicates.
The FTC will also be
asked to open a public complaint docket, according to the summary, and to work with the FCC to develop a report investigating how tech companies curate their platforms and whether they do so in neutral ways. Companies whose monthly user base accounts for
one-eighth of the U.S. population or more could find themselves facing scrutiny, the summary said, including but not limited to Facebook, Google, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Snapchat.
The Trump administration's proposal seeks to
significantly narrow the protections afforded to companies under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Under the current law, internet companies are not liable for most of the content that their
users or other third parties post on their platforms. This law underpins any company wanting to allow users to post their own comments without prior censorship. If protectsion were to be removed all user posting would need to be censored before being
America's Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has published a report about the US TV rating classification system.
The familiar TV ratings, TVY, TV7, TVG, TVPG, TV14, TVMA are essentially self administered by the TV companies but there is an
overview body called The TV Parental Guidelines (Oversight) Monitoring Board. The board describes itself:
The TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board is responsible for ensuring there is as much uniformity
and consistency in applying the Parental Guidelines as possible. The Monitoring Board does this by reviewing complaints and other public input and by facilitating discussion about the application of ratings among members of the Board and other relevant
industry representatives. The Monitoring Board typically meets annually or more often, if necessary, to consider and review complaints sent to the Board, discuss current research, and review any other relevant issues. The Board also facilitates regular
calls among industry standards and practices executives to discuss pending and emerging issues in order to promote ratings consistency across companies.
In addition to the chairman, the Board includes 18 industry
representatives from the broadcast, cable and creative communities appointed by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), NCTA 203 The Internet and Television Association, and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), and five public
interest members, appointed by the Board chairman.
The chairman id Michael Powell and the board representatives are from
21st Century FOX
American Academy of
Boys and Girls Clubs of America
Call for Action
Entertainment Industries Council
Sony Pictures Entertainment
Turner Broadcasting System
Viacom Media Networks
The TV ratings are frequently criticised, at least by morality campaign groups and recently the FCC responded by undertaking a review of the TV rating system. The FCC has just published its findings and concurs with much of the criticism.
The FCC writes:
After reviewing the record as a whole, our primary conclusion is that the Board has been insufficiently accessible and transparent to the public. For example, when the Bureau began its work on this report, the Board's website did not even include a
phone number that someone could call to reach it. We are pleased that this problem was recently fixed. But in our view, additional steps should be taken to increase awareness of the Board's role and the transparency of its operations. Below are
suggestions along those lines that we submit for Board and industry consideration.
First, we urge the Board and the video programming industry to increase their efforts to promote public awareness of the Board and its role in
overseeing the rating system. We urge the Board and the industry to increase their outreach efforts concerning the existence of the rating system and consider additional ways in which they can publicize the ability of the public to file complaints, along
with instructions on how complaints can be filed. In this regard, as noted, the Board recently reactivated a telephone number for use in contacting the Board and also provides a post office box where physical mail can be sent.
Second, we suggest that the Board consider ways to inform the public regarding the number of complaints it receives, the nature of each complaint, the program and network or producer involved, and the action taken, if any, by the network/producer or the Board in response to the complaint. For instance, the Board could consider issuing an annual report on the complaints it has received about the ratings of programs, how those complaints were adjudicated, and whether complaints led to the rating of a program being changed in future airings.
Third, we suggest that the Board hold at least one public meeting, that is publicized with adequate notice, each year. This would permit the public to express their views directly to the Board and help the Board better understand
public concerns regarding program ratings.
we suggest that the Board consider doing random audits or spot checks analyzing the accuracy and consistency of the ratings being applied pursuant to the TV Parental Guidelines. This
information could be used, in addition to the survey data already collected by the Board, to help assess, and if necessary, improve ratings accuracy. Such information would also allow the Board and the industry to consider whether any changes are needed
to the guidelines themselves to ensure that they are as helpful as possible to today's viewers, consistent with the Board's commitment.
We note the ratings system has not changed in over 20 years and, despite its longevity, many
commenters contend that the rating system is not well-understood or useful to parents.
The Parents Television Council have reported that the FCC is required to review the TV content ratings system and report on the effectiveness of the system within 90 days, as per the Appropriations Bill of 2019. Specifically, the Conference Committee
Oversight Monitoring and Rating System.-In lieu of Senate report language on oversight monitoring and rating system, the FCC is directed to report to the Committees on Appropriations of the House and Senate
within 90 days of enactment of this Act on the extent to which the rating system matches the video content that is being shown and the ability of the TV Parental Guidelines Oversight Monitoring Board to address public concerns.
President Tim Winter said:
Finally, after more than 20 years, Congress is addressing the needs of families and the welfare of children by formally calling for the first-ever regulatory review of the TV Content Ratings
System and its ostensible oversight. We are elated that this important legislative wording was adopted as part of the appropriations bill that funds the federal government for this fiscal year.