Cops Union Opposes Gigi Sohn's FCC Nomination

(Image credit: Fraternal Order of Polic)

The Fraternal Order of Police has come out in strong opposition to Democratic FCC nominee Gigi Sohn's nomination to be an FCC commissioner over the issue of encryption and law enforcement access to information.

That is not an issue that would come before the FCC, but Sohn is being hammered from various sides over positions she took almost a decade ago with Public Knowledge or ones that would not be before her as a commissioner--copyright carveouts, encryption--as well as her criticisms of Fox and Sinclair and her support of net neutrality rules.

Law enforcement--including the Department of Justice--under both Democratic and Republican Administrations have been at issue with providers and phone manufacturers over accessing encrypted phones and information of various criminal suspects.

In a three-page letter to the chair and ranking members of the Senate Commerce Committee, which will be voting on Sohn's nomination, FOP National President Patrick Yoes urged the committee to reject Sohn's nomination.

Specifically, Yoes said the FOP and "many others" in the law enforcement community, were "deeply troubled" by what they called Sohn's "active and enthusiastic" leadership as a board member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has pushed for end-to-end encryption and against law enforcement efforts to bypass that encryption.

FOP said new encryption methods are preventing law enforcement from obtaining the information it needs to protect the public. "We are apprehensive of Ms. Sohn's stance on this issue based on her leadership role at EFF and because she has never moderated her extreme views on this subject," he told the legislators.

FOP said  it would be irresponsible of it not to weigh in on a nominee who "would have such a profound impact on such a critical public safety issue. "

Sohn, who took less heat from Republicans than expected from her confirmation hearing, has since run into stronger headwinds on her nomination, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), for example, has already signaled he plans to put a hold on Sohn's nomination.■

One argument is that rather than tweets critical of Fox or her past stands on fair use issues almost a decade ago at Public Knowledge, the real driver of opposition is that Sohn would be the third Democrat on the five-member commission and thus the majority the Dems need to restore net neutrality rules under Title II.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.