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Section 230

Senate Commerce Committee Advances FCC Nominee Nathan Simington to Floor Debate

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Screenshot of Sen. Richard Blumenthal from the Senate Commerce Committee meeting

December 2, 2020 — This Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on Wednesday morning voted 14-12 to advance Federal Communications Commission nominee Nathan Simington to the Senate chamber floor.

While the full Senate will still have to consider his nomination, the committee’s party-line vote indicates he could make it through the Republican upper chamber largely unscathed.

Committee Democrats raised an array of concerns over Simington during the nomination hearing.

“What’s at stake here is more than just a single nominee,” said Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut. “It is in fact the independence of the FCC.” Blumenthal said he plans to do everything in his power to put a hold on Simington’s nomination, and that he regretted “the committee was rushing the decision.”

Ranking Member Senator Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, said it was important to remind present members of the process that brought Mr. Simington before the committee today. Simington was nominated just a few short weeks after “the White House abruptly and unexpectedly pulled its renomination of Commissioner Mike O’Rielly, just days after the committee reported the renomination to the Senate,” said Cantwell.

Screenshot of Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., at the Senate Commerce Committee meeting

She said O’Rielly’s renomination was pulled as a retaliation for him speaking his mind about “problems with the FCC trying to issue rules related to Section 230 at the president’s behest.”

Simington, an official at the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, came under fire for playing a key role in writing the agency’s petition to the FCC seeking modifications to Section 230, following President Donald Trump‘s executive order in May.

Blumenthal criticized Simington for being a close ally of President Trump, saying it appeared he was “nominated for one purpose, to support the president’s indefensible assault on the First Amendment.”

An email to Fox News about Section 230 and the election

Blumenthal further said that Simington failed to disclose information during his nomination hearing on November 10.

According to Blumenthal, one of Simington’s e-mails revealed that he enlisted media personnel at Fox News to “help get the FCC onboard more quickly” with the Section 230 effort, and therefore to “ensure a freer and surer social media landscape going into the election season this Fall.”

The email between Simington and a Fox News correspondent further stated that “restraining social media companies was of concern to the presidency and down ballot.”

“We now know based on his e-mail that Simington used media personnel at Fox News to put direct pressure on the FCC to move forward on the Administrations Section 230 petition,” said Cantwell. “This involvement to me sounds significant, and I do not support his nomination.”

Blumenthal further said that Simington refused to recuse himself from the matter involving Section 230.

“I’ve asked him to recuse himself from issues relating to Section 230,” said Blumenthal. “I will continue this fight on the Senate floor I will continue to do everything I can to hold this nomination.”

Next stages for broadband in the Biden administration

Cantwell and Blumenthal noted the new importance of the FCC’s role since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We face right now a national emergency,” said Blumenthal. “Both a pandemic and an economic crisis that requires this agency to be more active than ever in protecting consumers and our telecommunications systems.” Blumenthal said he fears the outcome of this nomination will be a deadlock of the commission in the middle of a national crisis.

Simington’s nomination very well may deadlock the FCC and block the Biden administration’s agenda for a significant period of time. Following Republican Chairman Ajit Pai‘s planned departure on January 20, Simington’s seat would leave the commission with two Democrats and two Republicans until the president-elect pushes through his own nominee.

“Perhaps the telecommunications and media companies want that type of deadlock,” said Blumenthal. “They may want for an FCC that is absent and neutralized.”

Former Assistant Editor Jericho Casper graduated from the University of Virginia studying media policy. She grew up in Newport News in an area heavily impacted by the digital divide. She has a passion for universal access and a vendetta against anyone who stands in the way of her getting better broadband. She is now Associate Broadband Researcher at the Institute for Local Self Reliance's Community Broadband Network Initiative.

Section 230

Companies May Hesitate Bringing Section 230 Arguments in Court Fearing Political Ramifications: Lawyers

Legal experts say changing views on Section 230 will make platforms less willing to employ that defense in future cases.

Published

on

Carrie Goldberg, founder of C.A. Goldberg law firm

December 2, 2020 — This Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on Wednesday morning voted 14-12 to advance Federal Communications Commission nominee Nathan Simington to the Senate chamber floor.

While the full Senate will still have to consider his nomination, the committee’s party-line vote indicates he could make it through the Republican upper chamber largely unscathed.

Committee Democrats raised an array of concerns over Simington during the nomination hearing.

“What’s at stake here is more than just a single nominee,” said Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut. “It is in fact the independence of the FCC.” Blumenthal said he plans to do everything in his power to put a hold on Simington’s nomination, and that he regretted “the committee was rushing the decision.”

Ranking Member Senator Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, said it was important to remind present members of the process that brought Mr. Simington before the committee today. Simington was nominated just a few short weeks after “the White House abruptly and unexpectedly pulled its renomination of Commissioner Mike O’Rielly, just days after the committee reported the renomination to the Senate,” said Cantwell.

Screenshot of Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., at the Senate Commerce Committee meeting

She said O’Rielly’s renomination was pulled as a retaliation for him speaking his mind about “problems with the FCC trying to issue rules related to Section 230 at the president’s behest.”

Simington, an official at the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, came under fire for playing a key role in writing the agency’s petition to the FCC seeking modifications to Section 230, following President Donald Trump‘s executive order in May.

Blumenthal criticized Simington for being a close ally of President Trump, saying it appeared he was “nominated for one purpose, to support the president’s indefensible assault on the First Amendment.”

An email to Fox News about Section 230 and the election

Blumenthal further said that Simington failed to disclose information during his nomination hearing on November 10.

According to Blumenthal, one of Simington’s e-mails revealed that he enlisted media personnel at Fox News to “help get the FCC onboard more quickly” with the Section 230 effort, and therefore to “ensure a freer and surer social media landscape going into the election season this Fall.”

The email between Simington and a Fox News correspondent further stated that “restraining social media companies was of concern to the presidency and down ballot.”

“We now know based on his e-mail that Simington used media personnel at Fox News to put direct pressure on the FCC to move forward on the Administrations Section 230 petition,” said Cantwell. “This involvement to me sounds significant, and I do not support his nomination.”

Blumenthal further said that Simington refused to recuse himself from the matter involving Section 230.

“I’ve asked him to recuse himself from issues relating to Section 230,” said Blumenthal. “I will continue this fight on the Senate floor I will continue to do everything I can to hold this nomination.”

Next stages for broadband in the Biden administration

Cantwell and Blumenthal noted the new importance of the FCC’s role since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We face right now a national emergency,” said Blumenthal. “Both a pandemic and an economic crisis that requires this agency to be more active than ever in protecting consumers and our telecommunications systems.” Blumenthal said he fears the outcome of this nomination will be a deadlock of the commission in the middle of a national crisis.

Simington’s nomination very well may deadlock the FCC and block the Biden administration’s agenda for a significant period of time. Following Republican Chairman Ajit Pai‘s planned departure on January 20, Simington’s seat would leave the commission with two Democrats and two Republicans until the president-elect pushes through his own nominee.

“Perhaps the telecommunications and media companies want that type of deadlock,” said Blumenthal. “They may want for an FCC that is absent and neutralized.”

Continue Reading

Section 230

Head of Big Tech Lobby Group Says Repealing Section 230 Unconstitutional

CTA CEO said abolishing intermediary liability protections violates private industry protections against government interference.

Published

on

Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Technology Association

December 2, 2020 — This Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on Wednesday morning voted 14-12 to advance Federal Communications Commission nominee Nathan Simington to the Senate chamber floor.

While the full Senate will still have to consider his nomination, the committee’s party-line vote indicates he could make it through the Republican upper chamber largely unscathed.

Committee Democrats raised an array of concerns over Simington during the nomination hearing.

“What’s at stake here is more than just a single nominee,” said Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut. “It is in fact the independence of the FCC.” Blumenthal said he plans to do everything in his power to put a hold on Simington’s nomination, and that he regretted “the committee was rushing the decision.”

Ranking Member Senator Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, said it was important to remind present members of the process that brought Mr. Simington before the committee today. Simington was nominated just a few short weeks after “the White House abruptly and unexpectedly pulled its renomination of Commissioner Mike O’Rielly, just days after the committee reported the renomination to the Senate,” said Cantwell.

Screenshot of Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., at the Senate Commerce Committee meeting

She said O’Rielly’s renomination was pulled as a retaliation for him speaking his mind about “problems with the FCC trying to issue rules related to Section 230 at the president’s behest.”

Simington, an official at the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, came under fire for playing a key role in writing the agency’s petition to the FCC seeking modifications to Section 230, following President Donald Trump‘s executive order in May.

Blumenthal criticized Simington for being a close ally of President Trump, saying it appeared he was “nominated for one purpose, to support the president’s indefensible assault on the First Amendment.”

An email to Fox News about Section 230 and the election

Blumenthal further said that Simington failed to disclose information during his nomination hearing on November 10.

According to Blumenthal, one of Simington’s e-mails revealed that he enlisted media personnel at Fox News to “help get the FCC onboard more quickly” with the Section 230 effort, and therefore to “ensure a freer and surer social media landscape going into the election season this Fall.”

The email between Simington and a Fox News correspondent further stated that “restraining social media companies was of concern to the presidency and down ballot.”

“We now know based on his e-mail that Simington used media personnel at Fox News to put direct pressure on the FCC to move forward on the Administrations Section 230 petition,” said Cantwell. “This involvement to me sounds significant, and I do not support his nomination.”

Blumenthal further said that Simington refused to recuse himself from the matter involving Section 230.

“I’ve asked him to recuse himself from issues relating to Section 230,” said Blumenthal. “I will continue this fight on the Senate floor I will continue to do everything I can to hold this nomination.”

Next stages for broadband in the Biden administration

Cantwell and Blumenthal noted the new importance of the FCC’s role since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We face right now a national emergency,” said Blumenthal. “Both a pandemic and an economic crisis that requires this agency to be more active than ever in protecting consumers and our telecommunications systems.” Blumenthal said he fears the outcome of this nomination will be a deadlock of the commission in the middle of a national crisis.

Simington’s nomination very well may deadlock the FCC and block the Biden administration’s agenda for a significant period of time. Following Republican Chairman Ajit Pai‘s planned departure on January 20, Simington’s seat would leave the commission with two Democrats and two Republicans until the president-elect pushes through his own nominee.

“Perhaps the telecommunications and media companies want that type of deadlock,” said Blumenthal. “They may want for an FCC that is absent and neutralized.”

Continue Reading

Section 230

Broadband Breakfast Hosts Section 230 Debate

Two sets of experts debated the merits of reforming or removing and maintaining Section 230.

Published

on

Screenshot taken from Broadband Live Online event

December 2, 2020 — This Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on Wednesday morning voted 14-12 to advance Federal Communications Commission nominee Nathan Simington to the Senate chamber floor.

While the full Senate will still have to consider his nomination, the committee’s party-line vote indicates he could make it through the Republican upper chamber largely unscathed.

Committee Democrats raised an array of concerns over Simington during the nomination hearing.

“What’s at stake here is more than just a single nominee,” said Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut. “It is in fact the independence of the FCC.” Blumenthal said he plans to do everything in his power to put a hold on Simington’s nomination, and that he regretted “the committee was rushing the decision.”

Ranking Member Senator Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, said it was important to remind present members of the process that brought Mr. Simington before the committee today. Simington was nominated just a few short weeks after “the White House abruptly and unexpectedly pulled its renomination of Commissioner Mike O’Rielly, just days after the committee reported the renomination to the Senate,” said Cantwell.

Screenshot of Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., at the Senate Commerce Committee meeting

She said O’Rielly’s renomination was pulled as a retaliation for him speaking his mind about “problems with the FCC trying to issue rules related to Section 230 at the president’s behest.”

Simington, an official at the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, came under fire for playing a key role in writing the agency’s petition to the FCC seeking modifications to Section 230, following President Donald Trump‘s executive order in May.

Blumenthal criticized Simington for being a close ally of President Trump, saying it appeared he was “nominated for one purpose, to support the president’s indefensible assault on the First Amendment.”

An email to Fox News about Section 230 and the election

Blumenthal further said that Simington failed to disclose information during his nomination hearing on November 10.

According to Blumenthal, one of Simington’s e-mails revealed that he enlisted media personnel at Fox News to “help get the FCC onboard more quickly” with the Section 230 effort, and therefore to “ensure a freer and surer social media landscape going into the election season this Fall.”

The email between Simington and a Fox News correspondent further stated that “restraining social media companies was of concern to the presidency and down ballot.”

“We now know based on his e-mail that Simington used media personnel at Fox News to put direct pressure on the FCC to move forward on the Administrations Section 230 petition,” said Cantwell. “This involvement to me sounds significant, and I do not support his nomination.”

Blumenthal further said that Simington refused to recuse himself from the matter involving Section 230.

“I’ve asked him to recuse himself from issues relating to Section 230,” said Blumenthal. “I will continue this fight on the Senate floor I will continue to do everything I can to hold this nomination.”

Next stages for broadband in the Biden administration

Cantwell and Blumenthal noted the new importance of the FCC’s role since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We face right now a national emergency,” said Blumenthal. “Both a pandemic and an economic crisis that requires this agency to be more active than ever in protecting consumers and our telecommunications systems.” Blumenthal said he fears the outcome of this nomination will be a deadlock of the commission in the middle of a national crisis.

Simington’s nomination very well may deadlock the FCC and block the Biden administration’s agenda for a significant period of time. Following Republican Chairman Ajit Pai‘s planned departure on January 20, Simington’s seat would leave the commission with two Democrats and two Republicans until the president-elect pushes through his own nominee.

“Perhaps the telecommunications and media companies want that type of deadlock,” said Blumenthal. “They may want for an FCC that is absent and neutralized.”

Continue Reading

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