By now, the internet is littered with articles about what constitutes ‘adult content’.
And this has been the case since 2011, when the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a new definition of ‘commercial’ that defined ‘commercial content’ as “content that meets the definition of commercial speech” as set out in the Communications Decency Act of 1996.
This definition was then used by major internet companies including Google, Facebook, Twitter and others to set their own guidelines to decide what is acceptable and which is not.
The FCC’s definition is often criticised as a way for large corporations to make a living from advertising but in fact it was developed by a team of internet companies led by Google, which were able to use the FCC’s rules to define ‘commercial speech’ in a way that is far easier for the average user to understand.
But this definition has now been challenged in court, and is now in dispute between two different internet companies: Google and Twitter.
In its latest court ruling, Twitter has been forced to issue a statement saying that it has no plans to remove its own ‘adult videos’ from its site.
The original case was brought by US law firm Liberty Counsel who argued that it was illegal for Twitter to remove adult content because it was commercial speech and there was no right to free speech.
This was because the site was a public forum that could be used to sell advertisements, according to the statement from Twitter.
However, the US District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the terms in the FCC’s new definition do not apply to commercial content, which the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit decided in favour of in May this year.
The ruling has been welcomed by Twitter, which argued that the terms of service of the service should not apply.
“We welcome this court’s decision to uphold our longstanding commitment to protect the First Amendment rights of all users on Twitter, and we look forward to continuing to work with the Ninth and Tenth Circuits to ensure that Twitter has a meaningful legal and policy toolkit to deal with content that is harmful to our community and the First and Fourth Amendments,” Twitter said in a statement.
In its ruling, the Ninth Circuit judge said “the FCC did not err in finding that the term ‘commercial,’ when used in this context, refers to material that is not protected by the First or Fourth Amendments.”
“The term ‘content’ as used in the Federal Communications Act does not include any type of advertisement, such as a free offer, free download, or other free promotion,” the Ninth Circuit said.
“To be considered a commercial content, a service must meet the following conditions: (i) It is delivered in a form that does not identify the content owner, (ii) the service’s terms contain specific terms that prohibit the use of the content by third parties without permission from the contentowner, and (iii) the content may not be offered in more than one format for sale or rental.”
In a separate statement to BuzzFeed News, Google said: “We support the FCC decision and are pleased that the court found that our advertising platform, YouTube, complies with all of our rules, including the rules for advertising on YouTube.
We will continue to work closely with the FCC to provide a more effective approach to protecting users’ First Amendment right to watch and watch freely.”
But Twitter is now fighting back.
Twitter had argued that YouTube’s terms don’t apply because they apply to “commercial speech”.
“It’s not clear that the law says anything about how ‘commercial’, in this case, it’s not.
It’s not like it says anything at all about what is commercial in a free-speech sense, either,” a Twitter spokesperson said.”
As Google says, ‘commercial is what the law is meant to protect’,” the spokesperson continued.”
The FCC has no authority to create a definition that applies to all speech.””
We believe the court correctly held that the rules and guidelines are not applicable to all forms of speech.
And we think that the government should respect that right to freedom of expression,” said a spokesperson for Twitter.
Read more about internet censorship in our Internet censorship section.
This article was originally published on Tuesday, March 6, 2018 at 11:16:58 and last updated Wednesday, March 7, 2018 09:06:22