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Robert McDowell Comments on Net Neutrality Case Before D.C. Circuit

Reuters, The New York Times, InsideSources, Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News, Watchdog.org, Morning Consult
December 8, 2015

Robert M. McDowell, former FCC commissioner and a partner in Wiley Rein’s Telecom, Media & Technology Practice, was interviewed by several media outlets regarding last week’s hearing before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in a widely watched case, U.S. Telecom v. FCC, regarding the viability of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) new Open Internet rules. Also known as net neutrality, these new rules include reclassifying Internet service providers (ISPs) and common carriers under some of the 1934 Communications Act’s Title II regulations.

The core of the case focuses on how much authority the FCC has over ISPs’ business, including interconnection agreements and possibly pricing and service offerings. Representatives of the U.S. telecom industry and the FCC argued the case on December 4 before a three-judge panel.

In a December 4 Reuters article, which was also published in The New York Times, Mr. McDowell said he believes the D.C. Circuit is “highly likely” to overturn the new rules. He also told InsideSources in a December 3 story: “The FCC overreached beyond its authority when it classified the Internet as a utility. This is especially true in regard to wireless broadband, which Congress explicitly prohibited the FCC from reclassifying as a utility when it wrote Section 332.”

Mr. McDowell, who voted against two previous FCC attempts to issue net neutrality rules when he served as a commissioner from 2006 to 2013, added, “Because the FCC is likely to lose in court for a third time, all parties to this dispute should work together, in good faith, with Congress to forge a workable consensus.”

Mr. McDowell was also quoted by outlets including Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News, Watchdog.org, and the Morning Consult.

Wiley Rein represents two clients in the net neutrality challenge; they are among a group of petitioners urging the D.C. Circuit to vacate the rules, which took effect in June 2015.