Today, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) released a report on Competition in the Mobile App Ecosystem. In response, Ari Cohn, TechFreedom’s Free Speech Counsel, offered the following statement:

While the NTIA report advised the Administration to “carefully assess trade-offs and risks,” the agency did not heed its own advice. Instead, it endorsed the approach taken in the Open App Markets Act and the American Innovation and Choice Online Act without meaningfully assessing how those bills could undermine content moderation. 

Vague, ill-defined causes of action, untethered from established antitrust law, will inevitably be weaponized. App developers and users who monetize their content will file endless litigation whenever they disagree with routine content moderation decisions that have nothing to do with anticompetitive behavior. Framing such grievances in terms of “competition” will allow anti-moderation litigants to evade Section 230 and draw out the litigation. Even ultimately unsuccessful litigation deters content moderation when the process becomes the punishment. This is not an accident. Several supporters of these bills have admitted that this is their intent.

Instead of grappling with the question of “how,” the NTIA chose to merely issue broad proclamations of the “what.” As a result, the NTIA report reads more like a literature review than a meaningful roadmap for policymaking. Waving a magic wand and stating one’s general intentions is not sufficient to achieve effective and nuanced reform. The hard work lies in carefully hammering out details to ensure that the cure is not worse than the disease. Congress has failed to do that so far, and NTIA didn’t perform much better.


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