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Trump's FCC pick could mean more roadblocks to restore net neutrality

President Trump is set to exact his revenge on social media companies.

What you need to know

  • The U.S. Senate has just confirmed President Trump's pick will take a chair as the new FCC commissioner.
  • Nathan Simington's appointment comes at a critical time during the aftermath of the presidential election, as both Trump and current FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai, prepare their exits.
  • Simington is a supporter of Trump's plan to repeal Section 230 protections for social media companies.

President Donald Trump is not a fan of social networks right now. Amid failing efforts to discount election results in several states, the president and supporters have been facing strong moderation on social media due to misinformation about election fraud. Now, with his FCC nominee's confirmation by the U.S. Senate, Trump is readying his attack.

Republican nominee, Nathan Simington, won a majority vote to replace Commissioner Michael O'Reilly. The appointment draws controversy as it comes only a month before President Trump leaves the White House and just after O'Reilly departed at the end of his term due to opposing views regarding legal protections for social networks. Trump plans to repeal Section 230 which would weaken the legal field for companies like Twitter and Facebook by placing more liability on them.

With Ajit Pai stepping down as chairman, the FCC seats will be evenly split, which will still make it difficult for President-elect Joe Biden to push his own policies. Conservatives understandably also don't mind the deadlock, as it could mean putting a stop to plans like restoring net neutrality rules that were overturned by Trump's administration in 2017, as well as measures to expand access to the internet and making it more affordable. Even if Biden were to appoint a new chairman from the current batch of commissioners, policies can't go through without a majority vote.

Unfortunately, the Senate is likely to take months to confirm a Biden nominee to replace the empty FCC chair once Pai exits in late January. And Senate approval could also hinge on current runoff elections in Georgia for the remaining seats.



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