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Patricia O'Connell
Senior Communications Manager

Robert McDowell Weighs in With Top Media Outlets on FCC Net Neutrality Vote

CBS News, FOX News, Wall Street Journal, USA Today
February 27, 2015

Robert M. McDowell, a partner in Wiley Rein’s Communications Practice, was interviewed this week by multiple top media outlets regarding the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) adoption of net neutrality rules.  He also authored an opinion column in USA Today, warning that the FCC’s February 26 approval of the regulations “marked the largest government intervention into the Internet ecosphere in American history.”

In a video interview with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. McDowell said the measure will classify Internet network operations “as a public utility under a 81-year-old rule … and it brings with it about 1,000 different requirements.  The FCC is going to try to refrain from applying most of those, which will make the logic of needing to do it to begin with very wobbly on appeal.” 

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.  “You don’t want your doctor to start writing prescriptions when you don’t even know what the illness is, or even if there is an illness,” he said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.  “That’s what the FCC is doing right now.”

The new rules will lead to “a paradigm shift in communications regulation,” Mr. McDowell said in a Politico article.  “The FCC is expanding its jurisdiction, not only into network operations of the Internet but all the way to the backbone, which is a place no one thought the FCC would go a year ago.”

Mr. McDowell was also quoted by The National Journal and The Hill; featured in televised interviews with CBS News, FOX News, and Bloomberg TV; and interviewed by nationally syndicated talk radio hosts including Bill Bennett and Jim Bohannon.