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Photo illustration: Budrul Chukrut/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

AT&T will tell the Federal Communications Commission it should craft rules to shrink tech's longstanding legal shield, the company said Monday.

Why it matters: AT&T is a telecom giant and, since buying Time Warner, a major force in media and entertainment — both industries that have butted heads with Silicon Valley. The company is now launching this fresh attack as tech is vulnerable in Washington.

Driving the news: AT&T in a Monday blog post previewed comments it will make to the FCC Wednesday on reinterpreting Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which shields tech companies from liability over content their users post.

  • The company will ask the FCC to modify Section 230 so that tech platforms don't get such broad immunity.
  • It will also argue that Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Google should be forced to be more transparent about the decisions they "make on a daily basis," like how they rank search results and feature news stories.

What they're saying: Congress could not have known "this provision... would ultimately be wielded by the largest and most powerful companies in the world as a shield not just from unfair and frivolous lawsuits, but from what many consider to be every day responsibilities," writes AT&T policy executive Joan Marsh.

Context: The FCC is taking comments on potentially writing rules to modify Section 230 following a request from the Commerce Department, per an executive order from President Trump.

  • Section 230 has never fallen under the FCC's jurisdiction before. Trump recently pulled GOP Commissioner Mike O'Rielly's nomination to a second term after he objected to the FCC claiming the authority to tinker with Section 230.


Go deeper

Congress' year-end parting shots at Big Tech

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As Congress rushes to pass giant year-end funding bills, some members are taking last shots at the tech industry's giants by tacking on a range of measures the industry opposes.

The big picture: These funding bills are a favorite vehicle for advancing causes unrelated to government spending. This year, beating up on tech companies is a popular one — not just with Congress but with President Trump, who has campaigned relentlessly for legislators to use a must-pass defense spending bill to repeal a key tech-industry liability protection.

CPAC Republicans choose conservatism over constituents

Rep. Matt Gaetz. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images

CPAC proved such a draw, conservative Republicans chose the conference over their constituents.

Why it matters: More than a dozen House Republicans voted by proxy on the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill in Washington so they could speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference, known as CPAC. And Sen. Ted Cruz skipped an Air Force One flight as President Biden flew to Cruz's hometown of Houston to survey storm damage.

Border Democrat warns Biden about immigrant fallout

Henry Cuellar (right). Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call Inc. via Getty Images

A Democratic lawmaker representing a border district warned the Biden administration against easing up too much on unauthorized immigrants, citing their impact on his constituents, local hospitals and their potential to spread the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) told Axios he supports President Biden. But the moderate said he sees the downsides of efforts to placate pro-immigrant groups, an effort that threatens to blow up on the administration.