FCC Commissioner Robert M. McDowell visited the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication on Feb. 10, 2011, to discuss why he voted against the net neutrality regulations adopted by the FCC in December 2010. He held a 75-minute question-and-answer session with undergraduate students in Dr. Cathy Packer’s Internet law class. This is JOMC major Natasha Duarte’s Twitter feed on the event (in reverse order, of course):
• New tech innovation is taking less and less time to reach an audience. We need to look at general consumer laws, not tech specific — McDowell
• McDowell: transparency rules for ISPs blocking content would be helpful to consumers, but the FCC doesn’t have the legal authority
• “(wireless) not substitutable (for cable), but when we think something’s not substitutable, that’s when it starts becoming substitutable.”
• McDowell: wireless-only broadband is the fastest growing segment of broadband.
• @hartzog asked if wireless/mobile will provide meaningful competition for cable broadband
• McDowell says Comcasts’s blocking Bit Torrent was a bandwidth efficiency decision, not an anticompetitive business move
• In 2008, Comcast was sued for blocking file sharing Bit Torrent; court said FCC didn’t have legal authority over Comcast
• McDowell says he hasn’t seen anticompetitive content-based discrimination by ISPs.
• McDowell: Statutes already exist to address collusion and “refusal to deal” by ISPs and other companies
• McDowell says he thinks #netneutrality will go to the courts (lawsuits have been filed)
• McDowell: Congress could defund FCC enforcement of #netneutrality, but it probably won’t pass the Senate. If it does, Obama will veto.
• McDowell: 90 percent of @FCC votes are unanimous and bipartisan. It’s not like Congress
• McDowell: “Internet architecture defies authoritarian management”
• McDowell: There’s a role for the #FCC to shine a light on allegations of discriminatory practices on the Internet
• McDowell: The #FCC doesn’t have statutory authority to litigate over the Internet
• #netneutrality has 3 components: Transparency, no blocking and no unreasonable discrimination
• McDowell’s here. I just shook his hand. OK, I’m going to stop being nerdy and start being a journalist now.
McDowell also was interviewed by The (Raleigh, N.C.) News & Observer. Here’s that story: http://www.newsobserver.com/2011/02/14/987721/decisions-on-digital-data-loom.html#storylink=misearch.