The White House withdrew the nomination of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Mike O’Rielly, who had expressed doubts about President Donald Trump’s proposal to address tech censorship.
The White House announced the move to the Senate, although the Trump administration did not say why they withdrew the nomination.
The Trump administration, through the Department of Commerce, recently filed their petition to the FCC, asking the agency to propose regulations to clarify provisions of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
The proposal would specifically target that “good faith” efforts to remove content that is “obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable,” grants tech companies too much latitude to censor conservative and alternative voices on the Internet.
O’Rielly, a Republican FCC commissioner, had recently expressed doubt about Trump’s proposal.
“I shudder to think of a day in which the Fairness Doctrine could be reincarnated for the Internet,” O’Rielly said last week.
“The First Amendment protects us from limits on speech imposed by the government — not private actors,” O’Rielly added.
The FCC is controlled by a majority of three Republican commissioners — O’Rielly, Brendan Carr, and Chairman Ajit Pai.
O’Rielly’s skepticism about the Trump proposal signaled that the plan would be “dead on arrival,” one source familiar with the White House’s thinking told Breitbart News in June.
The source said, “Section 230 reform is a top priority for the White House, and this is frustrating because it signals that those reforms are dead on arrival.”
If the White House were to nominate a Republican commissioner supportive of the Section 230 reform, it would make it more likely that Trump could get reform at the FCC.
Carr has largely been supportive of the Trump administration’s efforts to address tech censorship, and Pai has criticized Silicon Valley’s tech censorship practices in the past.
Pai has also called for transparency standards to address questions surrounding tech companies’ content moderation practices.
Gigi Sohn, a former Democrat FCC official, slammed the Trump administration for withdrawing Trump’s nomination of O’Rielly.
“I understand this nom was pulled because @mikeofcc wasn’t supportive of Trump’s illegal & unconstitutional request that @FCC interpret #Section 230,” Sohn said. “Give Mike props – he stuck to his principles even as it may have cost him another term as Commissioner.”
I understand this nom was pulled because @mikeofcc wasn't supportive of Trump's illegal & unconstitutional request that @FCC interpret #Section 230. Give Mike props – he stuck to his principles even as it may have cost him another term as Commissioner. https://t.co/AqmZgC7Cwd
— Gigi Sohn (@gigibsohn) August 3, 2020