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Broadband Roundup: C-Band Transition, Facebook’s Voting Campaign, Trump’s Section 230 Order Challenged

Jericho Casper

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Photo of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in April 2019 by Anthony Quintano used with permission

June 18, 2020 — ACA Connects maintained in a Wednesday publication that the Federal Communications Commission should continue the course it initially established in offering cable providers and other station owners flexibility in how they receive programming post C-Band transition.

Over the next few years, incumbent users of the C-Band will need to make significant technical modifications in order to clear the lower portion of the band for heavily demanded wireless 5G use.

ACA Connects claimed that the FCC underestimated the transition costs for small, rural cable television providers, who have argued that the agency’s proposed lump sum amounts fall short of what’s necessary.

An additional FCC proposal, that the C-Band Relocation Clearinghouse would verify the technology upgrade needs of earth stations owned by cable operators, is actually illegal under the agency’s C-Band Order.

ACA Connects explained that the agency’s proposed actions would effectively make the lump sum option offered to providers no option at all, potentially undermining the agency’s aim to swiftly transition use of the C-Band.

In order to correct the lose-lose situation, ACA Connects recommended that the FCC re-work these two proposals and not make a decision until accounting for the final transition plans of the satellite operators, not due until August 14.

Facebook and Instagram Launch Voting Campaign

Facebook and Instagram will launch “the largest voting information effort in US history” to encourage voter turnout in upcoming elections, according to a USA Today op-ed by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday.

The platforms are embarking on the creation of a new digital Voting Information Center set to be centered at the top of the Facebook and Instagram news feeds, which will detail how and when to vote.

Zuckerberg addressed Facebook’s roll in shifting preferences and creating mistrust during the 2016 election, admitting that “in 2016, we were slow to identify foreign interference on our platform.”

Since then, Zuckerberg claimed the platforms have built some of the most advanced security systems in the world to protect against election interference.

Zuckerberg is attempting to maintain an open platform accompanied by ambitious efforts to boost voter participation, claiming that these actions will help Facebook support and strengthen democracy.

One immediate effect of the platforms’ efforts is that Facebook and Instagram will now allow users the option to turn off political ads.

Lawsuit Against Trump’s Executive Order Questions Its Constitutionality

On June 2, the Center for Democracy and Technology, a D.C.-based nonprofit, filed a lawsuit alleging that President Trump’s “Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship” violates the First Amendment.

The First Amendment prohibits government officials from using government power to retaliate against an individual or entity for engaging in protected speech.

CDT found that Trump’s executive order is unconstitutional on two accounts.

First, the order is clearly reactionary. It was drafted in response to Twitter exercising its First Amendment rights as a company.

Second, the order seeks to curtail and chill the constitutionally protected speech of all online platforms and individuals.

The reactive nature confirms its unconstitutional basis, argued CDT. Further, it “demonstrates the willingness (of Trump) to use government authority to retaliate against those who criticize the government.”

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