Trump Nominates Net Neutrality Supporter Jessica Rosenworcel To Be FCC Commissioner
President Donald Trump recently nominated Jessica Rosenworcel to resume her old job as commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission, a role she held from 2012 until the start of 2017. She’s a democrat best known for supporting net neutrality while encouraging the tech industry to get more involved with media regulators and lawmakers.
Rosenworcel was originally ousted when lawmakers neglected to re-confirm her nomination while former President Barack Obama was still in office, despite his attempts to ensure her seat. The Washington Examiner reported Trump deliberately withdrew her nomination when he took office. That move temporarily gave Republicans a majority in the FCC. Since then, the FCC has voted to revoke net neutrality regulations. If Trump’s renewed nomination leads to her confirmation, as is expected, then this idealist could return to take on the telecom industry head on. So, who is Rosenworcel?
Rosenworcel graduated from both Wesleyan University and New York University law school. The Wall Street Journal reported she said she always wanted to be on the “front lines” of public policy. After joining the FCC in 2012, she became one of the agency’s fiercest defenders of free internet access. “I feel like I have a front-row seat at the digital revolution,” she told The Verge in 2014. “I support network neutrality. I hope we can find a way at the agency to give that policy a stable legal home, because I think internet openness is vitally important to our economy.”
She has also been an outspoken about the need to promote women in STEM and the tech industry. Regardless of her personal opinions, Rosenworcel has generally received bipartisan support. “This appointment rights a wrong because she deserved confirmation last year and should have been sitting on the commission all along,” Georgetown University law professor Andrew Jay Schwartzman told the Los Angeles Times.
Even staunch Republican FCC commissioner Ajit Pai, who opposes net neutrality and wants to see corporations gain more power over public access to internet sites, seemed to welcome Trump’s nomination. He told the Los Angeles Times she has a “distinguished record of public service” and he looks forward to working with her again.
Throughout her work at the FCC, Rosenworcel proved to be a cautious big-picture thinker who was willing to push regulations forward even if they weren’t her ideal choice. She voted for a measure that broadened the legal definition of broadband internet in 2015, although she wanted a higher limit for minimum download speeds. “I, for one, am tired of dreaming small. It’s time to dream big,” she said, according to The Hill.
She dreams big but doesn’t rush. Rosenworcel also agreed with Republicans in 2016 that internet privacy laws needed more time to consider the complexities. Her recent nomination was a pragmatic move for the Trump administration. Trump is legally obligated to maintain a certain balance of partisan representation in the FCC. Rosenworcel has a history of fighting to close the digital divide marginalizing low-income households. She even received an award in 2015 for her efforts to bridge the gap between internet access and education reform. Her instatement would restore some much needed balance to the regulatory agency.