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Biden names first woman to lead FCC

The White House said on Tuesday Jessica Rosenworcel was appointed chair of the Federal Communications Commission, the first time the agency has been chaired by a woman in its 87-year history. President Biden made the appointment at the same time he nominated Rosenworcel to another five-year term on the regulatory agency.

Rosenworcel, a commissioner since 2012, has been acting chair since late January; the second woman to lead the FCC on an interim basis. Biden also nominated Gigi Sohn to serve on the FCC. The White House described Sohn as “one of the nation’s leading public advocates for open, affordable, and democratic communications networks.” Sohn was the cofounder of Public Knowledge, a technology advocacy group for consumers. If confirmed by the Senate, Rosenworcel and Sohn would give Democrats a 3-2 majority at FCC.

At its meeting on Tuesday, the FCC revoked the authority for China Telecom Americas, a subsidiary of a company owned by the Chinese government, to provide domestic or international telecommunications in the United States because of “significant national security and law enforcement risks.” The company could be forced by the Chinese government to engage in espionage or to disrupt U.S. communications, it said. In addition, it said China Telecom Americas had violated rules governing its presence in the U.S. market and it was not candid about its activities.

Appointed to the FCC by President Obama in 2012 and renominated by President Trump in 2017, Rosenworcel coined the term “homework gap” in 2014 to describe the problems facing students in households without reliable internet service. “During her time at the agency, she has worked to promote greater opportunity, accessibility, and affordability in our communications services in order to ensure that all Americans get a fair shot at 21st century success,” said the White House. Before joining the FCC, she was the senior communications lawyer on the staff of the Senate Commerce Committee.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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