MPAA Seizes on Mark Zuckerberg Testimony to Urge Greater Internet Accountability

Charles Rivkin

WASHINGTON — The MPAA sent a letter to senators leading Tuesday’s hearing with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg to urge greater accountability for internet platforms, long an issue as the trade organization presses sites to police their platforms for piracy.

“There was a vision for the internet, and this is not it,” MPAA Chairman Charles Rivkin wrote in his letter, referring to the scandals that have plagued Facebook and other sites.

“The moment has come for a national dialogue about restoring accountability on the internet,” he added. “Whether through regulation, recalibration of safe harbors, or the exercise of greater responsibility by online platforms, something must change.”

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) submitted the letter into the record at the end of Tuesday’s five-hour hearing.

Studios have long chafed at the “safe harbor” provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which gives online platforms immunity for user-generated content on their sites. When it comes to piracy, that immunity is granted as long as they promptly remove infringing material upon notice from the copyright owner. But content creators say that puts the onus on them to police platforms, rather than tech companies.

Rivkin wrote, “Although many are understandably focusing on the privacy implications of the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica incident, I encourage you also to consider this event in the broader context: how online platforms are increasingly at the center of scandals with serious social, economic, consumer protection, and safety concerns, and now these scandals are beginning to overshadow platforms’ benefits and erode public trust.”