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With ‘absurd’ timing, FCC announces intention to revisit Section 230

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FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has announced his intention to pursue a reform of Section 230 of the Communications Act, which among other things limits the liability of internet platforms for content they host. Commissioner Rosenworcel described the timing — immediately after Conservative outrage at Twitter and Facebook limiting the reach of an article relating to Hunter Biden — as “absurd.” But it’s not necessarily the crackdown the Trump administration clearly desires.

In a statement, Chairman Pai explained that “members of all three branches of the federal government have expressed serious concerns about the prevailing interpretation of the immunity set forth in Section 230,” and that there is broad support for changing the law — in fact there are already several bills under consideration that would do so.

At issue is the legal protections for platforms when they decide what content to allow and what to block. Some say they are clearly protected by the First Amendment (this is how it is currently interpreted), while others assert that some of those choices amount to violations of users’ right to free speech.

Though Pai does not mention specific recent circumstances in which internet platforms have been accused of having partisan bias in one direction or the other, it is difficult to imagine they — and the constant needling of the White House — did not factor into the decision.

A long road with an ‘unfortunate detour’

In fact the push to reform Section 230 has been progressing for years, with the limitations of the law and the FCC’s interpretation of its pertinent duties discussed candidly by the very people who wrote the original bill and thus have considerable insight into its intentions and shortcomings.

In June Commissioner Starks disparaged pressure from the White House to revisit the FCC’s interpretation of the law, saying that the First Amendment protections are clear and that Trump’s executive order “seems inconsistent with those core principles.” That said, he proposed that the FCC take the request to reconsider the law seriously.

“And if, as I suspect it ultimately will, the petition fails at a legal question of authority,” he said, “I think we should say it loud and clear, and close the book on this unfortunate detour. Let us avoid an upcoming election season that can use a pending proceeding to, in my estimation, intimidate private parties.”

The latter part of his warning seems especially prescient given the choice by the Chairman to open proceedings less than three weeks before the election, and the day after Twitter and Facebook exercised their authority as private platforms to restrict the distribution of articles which, as Twitter belatedly explained, clearly broke guidelines on publishing private information. (The New York Post article had screenshots of unredacted documents with what appeared to be Hunter Biden’s personal email and phone number, among other things.)

Commissioner Rosenworcel did not mince words, saying “The timing of this effort is absurd. The FCC has no business being the President’s speech police.” Starks echoed her, saying “We’re in the midst of an election… the FCC shouldn’t do the President’s bidding here.” (Trump has repeatedly called for the “repeal” of Section 230, which is just part of a much larger and important set of laws.)

Considering the timing and the utter impossibility of reaching any kind of meaningful conclusion before the election — rulemaking is at a minimum a months-long process — it is hard to see Pai’s announcement as anything but a pointed warning to internet platforms. Platforms which, it must be stressed, the FCC has essentially no regulatory powers over.

Foregone conclusion

The Chairman telegraphed his desired outcome clearly in the announcement, saying “Many advance an overly broad interpretation that in some cases shields social media companies from consumer protection laws in a way that has no basis in the text of Section 230… Social media companies have a First Amendment right to free speech. But they do not have a First Amendment right to a special immunity denied to other media outlets, such as newspapers and broadcasters.”

Whether the FCC has anything to do with regulating how these companies exercise that right remains to be seen, but it’s clear that Pai thinks the agency should, and doesn’t. With the makeup of the FCC currently 3:2 in favor of the Conservative faction, it may be said that this rulemaking is a forgone conclusion; the net neutrality debacle showed that these Commissioners are willing to ignore and twist facts in order to justify the end they choose, and there’s no reason to think this rulemaking will be any different.

The process will be just as drawn out and public as previous ones, however, which means that a cavalcade of comments may yet again indicate that the FCC ignores public opinion, experts, and lawmakers alike in its decision to invent or eliminate its roles as it sees fit. Be ready to share your feedback with the FCC, but no need to fire up the outrage just yet — chances are this rulemaking won’t even exist in draft form until after the election, at which point there may be something of a change in the urgency of this effort to reinterpret the law to the White House’s liking.

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Buy the AirPods Pro for $200 Before This Rare Offer Disappears

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Best Tech DealsBest Tech DealsThe best tech deals from around the web, updated daily.

Apple AirPods Pro | $200 | Amazon
Apple AirPods Pro | $200 | B&H Photo

If you’re an iPhone user with some cash to blow, skip the pretenders and even the lesser AirPods to go for something better. The AirPods Pro stepped the game up with rubber tips, noise cancellation, and better overall audio quality. They’re a bit expensive and the price has dropped bit by bit over time, leading up to today’s opportunity to save $50 on a pair of your own, complete with a wireless charging case. With active noise canceling, automatic pairing on iPhones and iPads, and water/sweat resistance, picking ‘em now is a no-brainer if you were already in the market for them.

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We saw these drop just before Amazon Prime Day, and the price has held steady since. However, B&H Photo has a similar offer that’s set to expire October 30, which may be a signal that the opportunity is about to pass. Be sure to get your order in while there’s still time!

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This story was originally published by Quentyn Kennemer on 5/1/2020 and updated by Gabe Carey with new information on 10/27/2020.


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The 10 Best Deals of October 29, 2020

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Gif: Juliana Clark

Best Deals of the DayBest Deals of the DayThe best deals from around the web, updated daily.

Thursday’s Best Deals | Kinja Deals

It’s October 29, and we at Kinja Deals are here to bring you the top 10 deals of the day. Protect your data by purchasing a plan from NordVPN. Snag that 55″ Smart TV you’ve been saving up for from TCL. Get started on those DIY home repairs with the RYOBI One+ 3-Tool Combo Kit.

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And if you’re still looking for more savings, take a look at Thursday’s best deals overall.

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In his roundup of the best VPNs at Gizmodo, Andrew Couts called NordVPN “fast and easy to use,” citing accessibility and affordability as reasons to subscribe. Though it’s almost always marked down from its $287 list price, the 2-year plan is nonetheless the cheapest option to get started with the service and continue using it long-term. For a limited time only, though, it’s not only 68% off, bringing your total to just $89 for 730 days, but it also comes with an extra plan on top of that—chosen at random by the Nordic gods. Couts says in his abbreviated review:

No matter what you pay, you’ll get access to more than 5,400 servers in more than 60 countries, a bunch of features you may or may not want, and, because the company is based in Panama, assurances that your data—or lack of data, as the case may be—is outside of U.S. and European jurisdictions. Like every other VPN on this list, NordVPN claims to have a “strict no-logs policy,” so most of your data isn’t collected, the company says. It does still collect your email address, payment information, and the timestamp of the last time you launched the VPN.

But NordVPN isn’t without its downsized. “…some researchers have found that it sends your email address and Google Ad ID to a marketing company when you register through the Android app and contains some trackers,” Couts explains. “Another downside is that some of NordVPN’s servers are rented, which means another company you need to trust is in the mix. And yes, one of those servers got hacked in 2018.”

Still, if you want the one of the most reliable VPN clients, with the budget to support its robust infrastructure, you can’t go wrong with NordVPN. Plus, with availability on virtually every platform you can think of—from macOS to Android TV—it’s equal parts ubiquitous and acclaimed. Endorsed by PCMag, Wired, CNET, Business Insider, and more, it may be time to board the Nord hype train if you’re somehow unwedded to a VPN already.

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This deal was originally published by Gabe Carey.

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Best Buy has an insane deal going for a brand new 55″ 4K TCL smart TV. It’s the S434, which is pretty baseline for TCL’s lineup, but at just $200, there’s little to complain about. TCL’s panels are plenty sharp and accurate, and with this set, you’ll get HDR10 compliance for enhanced color and brightness in supported games and video content. This model has Android TV onboard for all your app needs, and with an included voice remote, all your favorite content is just a shout away with the help of Google Assistant.

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This deal was originally published by Quentyn Kennemer.

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For a short time, you can grab an Eight Sleep Pod Pro Cover for $1359+. Here’s the deets from one of our wonderful writers, Chaya:

Ranging from $1,445 to $1,745 depending on the size of your bed (or $175 off using our exclusive promo code KINJA175), the Pod Pro Cover from popular mattress brand Eight Sleep turns ANY mattress into a five-star sleeping experience. In short, Eight Sleep took the very best technology from their mattress and turned it into what is essentially a cover that transforms any bed into a smart bed. The encasement is placed on top of your current mattress and appends bed cooling and heating technology, a virtually silent vibration alarm system, sleep tracking, and a whole lot more. The cover is a two-part system: the encasement, which retrofits your mattress for a “PerfectFit TM” and the Active Grid cover, which adheres securely to the encasement to make your new smart bed manageable by app. A water hose and small hub connected to the Active Grid make the whole thing possible so that you can keep the rest of the bedding you’ve already got—no unnecessary spending or excess waste required.

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Grab it before it’s gone!

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This deal was originally published by Ignacia Fulcher.

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If you’re planning on getting your hands dirty with a DIY project at home, now is arguably the best time to do it since, well, you’re stuck there most of the time anyway. But, of course, in order to pull it off successfully, you’ll need the right tools for the job. Fortunately, the RYOBI One+ three-tool combo kit includes everything you’ll need to start cutting and drilling your way through the pain. For $99—a whopping 64% off—you can fetch a cordless drill, circular saw, and reciprocating saw with a single 1.5Ah battery to share between the three. An 18W charger keeps your power tools revved up and ready to go whenever you need ‘em most. To sweeten the deal, a carry bag can also be found in the box.

Save $177 on this versatile, multi-purpose kit today and get three essential utilities for the price of one. At The Home Depot, discounts like these don’t last long, so jump on it before stock runs out!

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This deal was originally published by Gabe Carey.

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Sony’s new WH-1000XM4 headphones are leading the way in their noise-cancellation technology, alongside the gestures that come with these new models. They were down to $298 during Prime Day and $284 at Newegg just a couple of weeks ago, but BuyDig is piledriving the competition with a $278 sticker price today.

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They will pause the track once it detects you’re speaking, and will also switch off the noise-cancellation when a hand is put on the right-cup. They feature fantastic sound and are able to be paired for up to two devices, so you can switch between your phone and your tablet with ease.

This deal was originally posted by Daryl Baxter.

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Though they’re mostly for keeping things clean, even towels get dirty eventually. Sure, it might’ve started as a way to rinse off after a shower karaoke sesh, but eventually that white will start to fade and might not look as nice hanging up. Or maybe after a few too many pup accidents in the house, it’s just time for a new set of linens.

Huckberry’s Turkish towels usually sell for a bit over $40, but right now they’re down to just below $30, and you’re getting some pretty fancy looking towels for your money. The striped towels come in plenty of variants to match your decor, and their unique design will certainly earn a few compliments if we’re ever safe to have people over.

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This deal was originally published by Jordan McMahon.

Echo Auto | $20 | Amazon

Echo Auto | $20 | Amazon
Graphic: Ignacia Fulcher

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If you want all your Alexa tunes playing in your car then you’re in luck! For $20, which is a good 60% off the original list price, you can connect to the Alexa app on your phone and play music through your vehicle’s speakers via auxiliary or Bluetooth. The Echo Auto has eight microphones so it can hear your voice through loud noises throughout the duration of your trip. You’ll also be able to stream Amazon music, Apple Music, Spotify, and other services with just the sound of your voice. I would grab this deal before it is gone!

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This deal was originally published by Ignacia Fulcher. 

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I don’t know about you, but as a tangental Star Wars fan, I only made it through the first season of The Mandalorian because of Baby Yoda. Luckily, the masses have done us all a favor and gave us what we all need—a plush of our favorite character for a decent $18. You can cuddle with him when the new season drops in a few days. Thank me later.

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This deal was originally published by Ignacia Fulcher.

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Animal Crossing: New Horizons is all about vibing out and literally minding your business, so why not hop on a themed Nintendo Switch for $270? It’s refurbished via Best Buy Geek Squad, so there’s a 90-day warranty if things go wrong. You’ll get the Joy-Cons in those calming colors which just set up a mood of relaxation. And while you’re at it, if you still haven’t bought it, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is only $50, $10 off its original list price. What are you waiting for? That weird owl thing is waiting for you.

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This deal was originally published by Ignacia Fulcher.

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If you’re an iPhone user with some cash to blow, skip the pretenders and even the lesser AirPods to go for something better. The AirPods Pro stepped the game up with rubber tips, noise cancellation, and better overall audio quality. They’re a bit expensive and the price has dropped bit by bit over time, leading up to today’s opportunity to save $50 on a pair of your own, complete with a wireless charging case. With active noise canceling, automatic pairing on iPhones and iPads, and water/sweat resistance, picking ‘em now is a no-brainer if you were already in the market for them.

We saw these drop just before Amazon Prime Day, and the price has held steady since. However, B&H Photo has a similar offer that’s set to expire October 30, which may be a signal that the opportunity is about to pass. Be sure to get your order in while there’s still time!

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This deal was originally published by Quentyn Kennemer.


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Through the End of the Week, Get an Extra Plan Free When You Sign up for 2 Years of NordVPN

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Best Tech DealsBest Tech DealsThe best tech deals from around the web, updated daily.

2 Years + One Free Plan | $89 | NordVPN

In his roundup of the best VPNs at Gizmodo, Andrew Couts called NordVPN “fast and easy to use,” citing accessibility and affordability as reasons to subscribe. Though it’s almost always marked down from its $287 list price, the 2-year plan is nonetheless the cheapest option to get started with the service and continue using it long-term. For a limited time only, though, it’s not only 68% off, bringing your total to just $89 for 730 days, but it also comes with an extra plan on top of that—chosen at random by the Nordic gods. Couts says in his abbreviated review:

No matter what you pay, you’ll get access to more than 5,400 servers in more than 60 countries, a bunch of features you may or may not want, and, because the company is based in Panama, assurances that your data—or lack of data, as the case may be—is outside of U.S. and European jurisdictions. Like every other VPN on this list, NordVPN claims to have a “strict no-logs policy,” so most of your data isn’t collected, the company says. It does still collect your email address, payment information, and the timestamp of the last time you launched the VPN.

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But NordVPN isn’t without its downsized. “…some researchers have found that it sends your email address and Google Ad ID to a marketing company when you register through the Android app and contains some trackers,” Couts explains. “Another downside is that some of NordVPN’s servers are rented, which means another company you need to trust is in the mix. And yes, one of those servers got hacked in 2018.”

Still, if you want the one of the most reliable VPN clients, with the budget to support its robust infrastructure, you can’t go wrong with NordVPN. Plus, with availability on virtually every platform you can think of—from macOS to Android TV—it’s equal parts ubiquitous and acclaimed. Endorsed by PCMag, Wired, CNET, Business Insider, and more, it may be time to board the Nord hype train if you’re somehow unwedded to a VPN already.

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