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Experts Disagree on Common Carriage Application for Social Media

Policy experts disagreed Monday about whether common carrier regulation should be applied to social media companies, as has been proposed in certain states. “I don’t think common carriage regulation makes sense for internet companies,” said Chamber of Progress Senior Counsel…

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Jess Miers during a State of the Net session Monday. She noted the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1990s recognized the internet as a “wholly new medium of worldwide human communication.” It’s “different from the telephone companies and” traditional common carriages, she said. Traditional common carriers like ISPs provide one avenue to access the internet, so any restrictions can have a significant impact on a user, she said: That’s different from social media platforms because users have many options, even if they get restricted on one service. Fordham University law professor Olivier Sylvain said he wouldn’t elevate social platforms to common carriers like phone companies, which provide “essential” infrastructure. “They’re very different services that are being offered,” said Gus Rossi, Omidyar Network director-responsible technology. But it’s “not completely out of bounds to say, ‘Well, we want to look at carriage of speech in some context.’” Rossi argued the concept could be applied to social media companies, but carefully, which he said states like Florida and Texas have failed to do.