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​Pro-net neutrality FCC commissioner resigns

In another setback for net neutrality, Mignon Clyburn is resigning from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Video: Net neutrality is gone. Welcome to the biased net.

If you expect the FCC to change its mind about net neutrality, think again.

Today, in an FCC meeting, a leading pro-net neutrality commissioner, Mignon Clyburn, announced she was resigning.

Her term expired in June 2017, but FCC rules allowed her to stay until the end of 2018. She could have applied for another five-year term, but chose not to do so.

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Clyburn, who had been appointed by former President Barack Obama in 2009, said, "I've done all I know to do. And it's time for me to serve in another way." She had tried her best to stop FCC chairman Ajit Pai, a former Verizon attorney, and his Republican FCC cronies, but she -- and all the many others who favored net neutrality -- failed to stop President Donald Trump's plans.

In a recent CNET interview, Clyburn said Pai FCC's has given "the keys of the internet over to entities that answer to shareholders first. They will look at their bottom line first. And if there is anything left over, then maybe they will think about the general public."

Michael Copps, former FCC commissioner and Common Cause special adviser, said, "She gave eloquent and effective voice to many millions who have for so long lacked a voice at the FCC, and her work to make communications policy work for everyone makes her a champion to them and to me."

Former pro-net neutrality FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has said of her: "The conscience of the commission."

The FCC has five commissioners. They're appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate for five-year terms. Only three commissioners can be members of the same political party. Thus, with three Republicans already in place, Trump must choose a Democrat.

Traditionally, presidents defer to the Senate minority leader when filling FCC opposing-party seats. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has already recommended Geoffrey Starks, an assistant chief in the FCC's enforcement bureau, for the post.

Read also: FCC officially publishes net neutrality repeal

Trump's presidency has been anything but traditional. Trump has been slow to nominate people to senior government posts. The White House Presidential Personnel Office (PPO), which vets appointees, has little experience and has been slow in doing its work. It's perfectly possible that the FCC will have four commissioners, three Republican and one Democrat, for the foreseeable future.

If there's any hope for net neutrality being restored, we can forget about it coming from the FCC. Net neutrality must be revived from the states, the Courts, or Congress.

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