President Donald J. Trump will nominate Nathan A. Simington, of Virginia, to the FCC. If approved by Congress, Simington would replace outgoing FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly.
Simington is currently a senior advisor in the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) specializing in network and telecommunications policy. Among his many responsibilities across the telecommunications industry, he works on 5G security and secure supply chains, the American Broadband Initiative, and is NTIA’s representative to the Government Advisory Committee of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.
Prior to his appointment at NTIA, Simington was senior counsel to Brightstar Corporation, an international wireless company. Prior to his career with Brightstar, Simington was an attorney in private practice with prominent national and international law firms.
Drama Behind Simington Nomination
O’Rielly looked like he was set sail through to another term. On March 18, President Donald Trump sent his nomination to the Senate but withdrew it on Aug. 3, without giving any reason.
What may have been behind O’Rielly’s exit was his stance on rewriting Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which was propose by Trump to reduced or eliminate censorship of conservative voices.
As O’Rielly explained it, the section governs online activity for those that offer services and those that benefit from services. It provides them certainty about liability for what is said or portrayed over their network.
Appearing on C-Span, O’Rielly said he has been concerned as a conservative that his fellow conservatives have been stifled or their words are being limited on certain tech platforms. However, he said he has concerns about whether the FCC has authority to act.
Appearing at the Media Institute’s Communications Forum luncheon series on July 29, O’Rielly said he is concerned about opportunists who claim to be the First Amendment’s biggest heroes, but only come to its defense when it is convenient and constantly shift its meaning to fit their current political objectives.
He said, “The First Amendment protects us from limits on speech imposed by government, not private actors, and we should reject demands, in the name of the First Amendment, for private actors to curate or publish speech in a certain way. Like it or not, the First Amendment’s protections apply to corporate entities, especially when they engage in editorial decision-making.”
These remarks may have been enough to motivate the nomination withdrawal in hopes of naming someone to the FCC who is more sympathetic to a rewriting of Section 230 in a way more aligned with the president’s objective.