Trump nominates social media hawk as next FCC commissioner

 theverge.com  09/16/2020 01:38:51   Makena Kelly
President Donald J. Trump... Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Donald Trump has nominated longtime telecom lawyer Nathan Simington to be the Federal Communications Commissions next commissioner, as reported by Law360.

Last week, The Verge first reported that Simington had emerged as a leading candidate to replace current Republican Commissioner Mike ORielly. Simington, a senior adviser at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), played a significant role in drafting a petition required under the Trump administrations social media executive order issued over the summer. The order instructs the FCC, after receiving NTIAs petition, to reinterpret Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

The order was issued in May after Twitter fact-checked two of Trumps tweets that made false statements about mail-in voting. It is unclear when the FCC intends to roll out a formal notice of proposed rulemaking and vote on the measure.

Simingtons nomination marks a significant break in the Trump administrations former FCC nominations. Previously, the administration has nominated Republican commissioners in favor of light-touch telecommunications and technology policy. ORielly was previously nominated for a third-term by Trump, but his nomination was abruptly withdrawn after he made a speech expressing concerns over the administrations social media order that would empower the FCC to take a unique role in regulating content moderation on social media platforms.

As a conservative, Im troubled voices are stifled by liberal tech leaders, ORielly tweeted in May. At same time, Im extremely dedicated to First Amendment which governs much here.

If Simingtons nomination is approved in the Senate, the FCC would have two Republican commissioners likely in favor of voting to approve the administrations social media order. Republican Commissioner Brendan Carr penned an op-ed in Newsweek last month arguing that the FCC should require social media platforms to submit transparency reports similar to what internet service providers already do.

In response to the nomination, ORielly sent Simington best wishes on Twitter. I extend my sincere congrats to Mr. Simington for selection to join [the FCC], ORielly wrote, and offer best wishes for a smooth confirmation process and successful term at the Commission.

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