Trump to meet state attorneys general to discuss key U.S. tech liability shield

U.S. President Donald Trump descends from Air Force One following a campaign trip to Ohio, at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, U.S., September 21, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner

(Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump plans to meet on Wednesday with a group of Republican state attorneys general about revising a key law that shields social media companies from liability for content posted by their users and allows them to remove lawful but objectionable posts.

“Online censorship goes far beyond the issue of free speech, it’s also one of protecting consumers and ensuring they are informed of their rights and resources to fight back under the law,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said. “State attorneys general are on the front lines of this issue and President Trump wants to hear their perspectives.”

A person briefed on the matter said Trump is expected to meet with the state attorneys general of Texas, Arizona, Utah, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, South Carolina and Missouri.The planned meeting was reported earlier by the Washington Post.

In May, Trump signed an executive order that seeks new regulatory oversight of tech firms’ content moderation decisions and backed legislation to scrap or weaken the law, Section 230.

He directed the Commerce Department to file the petition asking the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to limit protections under Section 230 after Twitter Inc TWTR.N warned readers in May to fact-check his posts about unsubstantiated claims of fraud in mail-in voting.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai opened the petition to a 45-day public comment.Earlier this month, the Republican state attorneys general

of Texas, Louisiana, Indiana and Missouri backed Trump’s push, arguing social media platforms cannot be truly free “unless the participants understand the rules of the forum, and competition is able to provide alternatives when speech restrictions go too far.”

A group representing major internet companies including Facebook Inc FB.O, Inc AMZN.O and Alphabet Inc’s Google GOOGL.O urged the FCC to reject the petition, calling it “misguided, lacks grounding in law, and poses serious public policy concerns.”