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1986 Penn Law graduate Gigi Sohn was nominated by President Joe Biden to serve on the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday (Photo from Penn Law).

President Joe Biden nominated 1986 Penn Law graduate Gigi Sohn to serve on the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday. 

If confirmed, Sohn will become the first openly LGBT commissioner. She previously served as a counselor to former FCC chair Tom Wheeler from 2013 to 2016. The FCC is responsible for regulating interstate and international communications via radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable. 

Over the course of her decades-long career in public policy, Sohn has advocated for affordable, democratic access to communications networks and protection of user privacy. Sohn championed the net neutrality rules implemented during the Obama administration which were later repealed under former President and 1968 Wharton graduate Donald Trump. 

Sohn is currently a distinguished fellow at the Georgetown Law Institute for Technology Law & Policy and a senior fellow at the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society.

Her nomination comes after Biden faced mounting pressure from advocacy groups to choose a nominee without ties to the telecom industry. Sohn is expected to empower the FCC to take on a more active role in regulating global telecommunications and the spread of misinformation.

Biden also nominated Jessica Rosenworcel to become the FCC’s first female chair. Both nominations reflect the Biden administration’s commitment to harboring a free and fair internet by restoring net neutrality rules' and advancing underserved communities’ access to broadband services, according to the New York Times

If confirmed by the Senate, Sohn will be the third Democrat on the commission, filling the position left vacant by Rosenworcel. She will play a pivotal role in regulating how information is spread in the digital age. 

Sohn will also become the most recent addition to the list of Penn alumni who have been tapped to serve in the Biden administration

Approval of appointees can be fraught in an evenly divided Senate, however. If the two nominations are not acted upon by the time Rosenworcel’s term expires and Congress adjourns, there is a possibility for a de facto Republican majority in the FCC. 

FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks praised Biden’s appointment of Sohn, adding that she will help advance the agency’s goals of protecting consumers and advancing national security. 

“In Gigi Sohn, President Biden has identified an accomplished leader whose talent, expertise, and experience will invigorate our work at the FCC,” Starks said. 

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