Good government depends on the leadership of good people – individuals who are committed to principles over partisanship, open to diverse perspectives and dedicated to acting in the public interest. As the U.S. Senate considers a nominee for Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), I urge them to confirm a candidate who embodies these qualities: Gigi Sohn.
Gigi is a pragmatic problem solver who understands what it takes to make innovation thrive. During a distinguished and multi-decade career in technology, media and telecommunications policy, she has served as a consumer advocate, public servant and academic. In each of these roles, she has earned the respect of industry, civil society groups and Republicans and Democrats alike – a true feat in these hyper-partisan times. In short: she is extraordinarily qualified for this position.
We need an FCC Commissioner who will ask critical questions of both industry leaders and government counterparts and truly listen to the answers, even when they are at odds with personal views. At times, that may mean that Gigi takes positions that conflict with the priorities of the consumer technology industry. But that’s a price we should all be willing to accept for a commissioner with deep integrity, knowledge and skill.
A look at her track record makes it clear that Gigi has always been an ardent defender of the principles that define our democracy – free speech and robust, substantive debate. Take for example, the decade-old debate over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and PROTECT IP Act (PIPA). Gigi rightly recognized the massive harm these bills would have to free expression and U.S. innovation and successfully advocated for their defeat. Had these bills passed, they would have allowed the removal of an array of websites containing user-generated content. Over the next decade, Gigi’s position – one shared by CTA – was proven correct. America’s content industry has thrived and continues to lead the world.
The issues facing the FCC today are too great to allow for any further delay in the nomination process. Since the start of the pandemic, millions of Americans have relied on high-speed broadband for work, school and health care. As these technologies become more integrated into our daily lives, that number will only grow. A strong U.S. economy and America’s global leadership depend on a full slate of Commissioners.
It is time to put aside politics and come together in support of a nominee for FCC Commissioner with a proven track record of effectiveness, open-mindedness and principled decision making. Senators, the time to act is now. I urge you to vote to confirm Gigi Sohn as FCC Commissioner.
Gary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, the U.S. trade association representing more than 1,500 consumer technology companies, and a New York Times best-selling author. His views are his own.