Nathan Simington, a social media hawk and nominee for President Donald Trump, was sworn in on Monday to join the five-member Federal Communications Commission.
The Senate voted 49-46 last week to approve Simington, a former Commerce Department official, for a five-year term at the FEDERAL Communications Commission. The committee’s chairman, Ajit Pai, swore in Mr. Simington on Monday.
Simington, a former senior adviser to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, is a social media hawk involved in the Trump administration’s push for new social media rules. Trump nominated Simington to the FCC in September. Symington’s move to the FCC is expected to provide a major boost to Trump’s efforts to end Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects the immunities of Twitter, Facebook and other social media users.
President Donald Trump recently spoke again about censorship by social media companies and stressed the importance of repealing Section 230. On December 1, Trump said he would be forced to veto the annual Defense Budget Bill (NDAA) unless Congress agrees to repeal Section 230.
“Section 230 is a gift to ‘Big Tech’ to evade responsibility (a right that only tech companies have in America) and now poses a serious threat to our national security and electoral integrity,” Trump tweeted. Our country will never be safe if we allow it to stay that way.”
He added, “So if this very dangerous and unfair Section 230 is not terminated completely in the Defense Authorization Act, then When the bill arrives on this very beautiful desk, I can only be forced to explicitly veto it.”
Under Section 230, publishers are liable for any content they publish, but online social media platforms are protected.
In recent months, however, the tech companies have stepped up censorship of their users, coming under fire from Trump and Republican lawmakers who have accused the Internet platforms of arbitrary content censorship and accused them of stifling conservative voices.
In May, Trump directed the Commerce Department to file a petition with the FEDERAL Communications Commission seeking to limit the legal protections provided to social media companies under Section 230 of the communications Decency Act of 1996. The provision gives social media companies immunity from prosecution for content that appears on their platforms, or for removing parts of it.
Mr. Simington said at his Senate confirmation hearing Nov. 10 that he helped draft the petition. He said he would be guided by the FCC’s ethics lawyers before deciding whether to participate in the Section 230 process.
According to Reuters, Trump abruptly withdrew the nomination of A Republican FCC commissioner, Michael O ‘Rielly, for a new term in August after O ‘Rielly questioned the AGENCY’s authority to issue new social media regulations that would limit Section 230 protections, leading trump to nominate Simington.
While FCC Chairman Richard Pai said in mid-October that his agency would begin work on new rules to clarify the meaning of Section 230, which provides legal protections to social media companies, he has yet to issue any formal proposals and plans to step down Jan. 20, a move that could lead to a 2-2 impasse at the AGENCY.
Some officials do not think the Senate will approve the president’s commissioners for a long time unless Republicans win seats in Georgia’s second election on January 5th.