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Robert McDowell Discusses President Obama’s Call To Regulate Internet as Public Utility

FOX Business, MSNBC, The New York Times, NPR
November 11, 2014

Robert M. McDowell, a partner in Wiley Rein’s Communications Practice, was interviewed by multiple print and television news outlets yesterday, following President Obama’s call for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to issue net neutrality rules classifying broadband Internet service as a public utility under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act.

Regulating the Internet under Title II is a “tremendously bad idea” that would face extensive court challenges, he said in an interview with FOX Business.  “What they’re doing here is saying America’s high-tech policy for the future is going to be to retrofit an 80-year-old law onto it, and that’s going to produce a lot of unfortunate results,” he told NPR’s “All Things Considered.”

Mr. McDowell served as an FCC commissioner from 2006 to 2013, during which he voted against the agency’s two previous attempts to issue net neutrality rules.

“As a legal matter, it would be very difficult for the FCC to subject the Internet to common-carrier regulation while at same time forbearing from the vast majority of Title II,” he told The New York Times.  “That is what makes this whole idea very wobbly.”

“I can’t think of any time in recent FCC history where we’ve seen this much White House action to influence an independent agency,” he said in an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes.