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Blumenthal, Net-Neutrality Groups Slam Trump Nominee for FCC

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Tuesday, December 8, 2020   

HARTFORD, Ct. -- The U.S. Senate could vote as early as today to approve President Donald Trump's nominee to the Federal Communications Commission - a nomination opposed by Democrats and advocates for net neutrality.

Nathan Simington is a Commerce Department official who wrote a controversial rule in May that aims to pressure social media companies - which have slapped warning labels on many of the president's claims about the election. Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal said Trump is trying to promote gridlock and hamstring the agency with an even number of Republicans and Democrats.

"The FCC should be truly an independent agency that serves the public interest, not a political football, which is what Donald Trump is trying to make it," Blumenthal said.

The Trump administration created the vacancy by withdrawing the nomination of an official who had criticized the president's stance on the independence of sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

Advocates say the FCC should be focused on ensuring all Americans have reliable broadband to facilitate distance learning and working from home during the pandemic. During his confirmation hearing, Simington refused to answer questions on programs such as E-rate, Lifeline and rural broadband that bring internet service to low-income families and to people in remote areas.

Under Trump, the FCC repealed Obama-era rules forbidding internet service providers from slowing down certain websites or charging more for internet fast lanes, which would disadvantage sites owned by small companies or nonprofits.

Evan Greer, deputy director for the group Fight for the Future, wants the Biden administration and the next Congress to reinstate net neutrality.

"Eighty percent of voters from across the political spectrum overwhelmingly agree that our cable companies should not get to pick and choose which websites we can visit, where we get our news, how we listen to music, how we watch videos," Greer said. "Those are issues that everyone can agree on."

Simington sailed through the committee vote with Republican support and will now need to be confirmed by the full Senate.


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