FCC Boss Pai Urged To Accept Trump Loss, Pause Dumb Attack On Social Media

from the can't-hear-you-I-have-a-banana-in-my-ear dept

With the Biden victory, FCC boss Ajit Pai is being urged to pause all controversial rulemaking, including the agency's absurd and now likely doomed attempt to regulate social media and undermine Section 230 via the FCC. With a Biden win, Pai's guaranteed to lose his spot as top commissioner, and is likely to exit the agency altogether.

Energy and Commerce Committee heads Frank Pallone and Mike Doyle this week wrote to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Joseph Simons, urging them to, as is tradition, pause any controversial rulemaking in preparation for the incoming Biden administration:

"With the results of the 2020 presidential election now apparent, leadership of the FCC will undoubtedly be changing. As a traditional part of the peaceful transfer of power — and as part of our oversight responsibilities — we strongly urge the agency to only pursue consensus and administrative matters for the remainder of your tenure."

The message to adhere to civility and norms was also mirrored by Jessica Rosenworcel, who'll likely be the next FCC boss (at least on an interim basis):

"I welcome the letter from Chairman Pallone and Chairman Doyle. Historically, the FCC has honored the transfer of power from one Administration to the next by pausing any controversial activity. I urge FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to follow this past practice in order to ensure an orderly transition of agency affairs. I look forward to continuing to work on the routine and consensus matters currently before the agency."

Granted, Ajit Pai is the same FCC boss that actively blocked law enforcement inquiries into Trumpland and the broadband industry's use of fake or dead people to generate bogus support for unpopular polices at the agency. He also spent years parroting false telecom lobbyist data as he happily dismantled the agency from within at the behest of AT&T, Verizon and Comcast. He also rubber stamped competition and job-eroding telecom mergers without even bothering to look at the data. And, who can forget the time Pai thought it was a good idea to make a dance video with a pizzagater after giving the public a giant middle finger.

As such, any idea that the FCC intends to adhere to norms here as they simultaneously deny obvious and clear election results is likely wishful thinking. Even though Pai himself made such a request shortly after Trump won. Still, former FCC staffers like Wheeler advisor Gigi Sohn urged the agency to at least try to consistently adhere to norms:

From the sound of things, it seems unlikely that the FCC's bumbling attempt to regulate social media at Trump's request has a long shelf life either way.

You'll recall that Trump fired Republican FCC Commissioner Mike O'Rielly for very politely pointing out the FCC lacks the authority to regulate social media and that undermining 230 would likely create more censorship, not less. As his replacement, Trump nominated the NTIA's Nathan Simington, the very guy that wrote Trump's ridiculous EO demanding the FCC "reinterpret" Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

Simington's appointment to the FCC is going through all the usual processes, including a hearing this week designed to provide media sound bytes supporting the completely bogus claim that social media unfairly censors Conservatives (data and reality often indicate the exact opposite). But everything I'm hearing is that Simington isn't likely to obtain an actual vote, in part because the GOP realizes Trump's 230 gambit is likely doomed, and they're more interested in others getting the FCC seat (Crystal Tully, Deputy Staff Director at the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation is a name that keeps coming up in my conversations this week).

It's one of several indications that while the GOP publicly is pretending the election is contested (to fundraise, avoid angering Trump's adoring fans, and keep supporters engaged for the Georgia runoffs), they're privately positioning and strategizing with the full knowledge the Biden Presidency is a done deal. Either way, there's every indication that the dumb FCC attempt to regulate social media (and the rank hypocrisy required to embrace such a move after bitching about net neutrality as "government overreach" for four years), is likely dead as a doornail.

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Filed Under: ajit pai, fcc, frank pallone, ftc, joseph simons, mike doyle, rulemaking, section 230


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  1. icon
    Thad (profile), 13 Nov 2020 @ 10:42am

    Re:

    no doubt relinquishing as much of the power he wielded as possible so his actions can't be easily undone.

    ...how's that going to work with the whole "granting himself the power to interpret section 230" thing?


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