2014 National Lawyers Convention
In today’s rapidly evolving telecommunications landscape, the development of new technologies and distribution platforms are driving innovation and growth at a breakneck speed across the Internet ecosystem. Broadband connectivity is increasingly important to our civil discourse, our economy, and our future. What is the proper role of government in facilitating robust investment and competition in this critical sector? When technology companies constantly have to reinvent themselves and adapt to survive – what role should government play? Our panel of experts will discuss the current regulatory environment and how government policies – particularly regarding transactions and the Open Internet proceeding – could affect the competitive marketplace.
The Federalist Society's Telecommunications & Electronic Media Practice Group presented this panel on "Competition Policy in the Telecommunications Space" on Thursday, November 13, during the 2014 National Lawyers Convention.
- Mr. Gene Kimmelman, President and CEO, Public Knowledge
- Hon. Maureen K. Ohlhausen, Federal Trade Commission
- Hon. Michael O’Rielly, Federal Communications Commission
- Prof. Christopher S. Yoo, John H. Chestnut Professor of Law, Communication, and Computer & Information Science, and Director, Center for Technology, Innovation & Competition, University of Pennsylvania Law School
- Moderator: Hon. Stephen F. Williams, Senior Circuit Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit
Mayflower Hotel Telecommunications & Electronic Media Practice Group Podcast
After suffering two judicial setbacks already, most recently in the D.C. Circuit’s Verizon v. FCC decision this past January, the Federal Communications Commission is once again proposing to adopt new net neutrality regulations. The proposed regulations would bar internet service providers from blocking access to any lawful website or from engaging in commercially unreasonable practices. A key aspect of the FCC’s proposal drawing considerable attention concerns whether the FCC should bar so-called paid prioritization of internet traffic.
In this Teleforum, three experts with divergent views addressed whether there is any need for the FCC to adopt any new neutrality regulations and, if so, whether the agency possesses the legal authority to do so. Two principal legal theories that may support FCC action were discussed – using the FCC’s existing authority under Section 706 of the Communications Act or classifying internet service providers as common carriers under Title II of the Act. The panelists also discussed the most important question of all: whether and how net neutrality regulation might affect consumer welfare.
Telecommunications & Electronic Media Practice Group Podcast
- Maureen K. Ohlhausen, Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission
- Prof. Daniel Lyons, Boston College Law School
- Michael Weinberg, Vice President, Public Knowledge
- Moderator: Randolph J. May, President, The Free State Foundation
On March 14, 2014, the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced its plan to transition its key internet domain name functions to the global multistakeholder community. It has asked the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to commence the multistakeholder process to develop the transition plan.
NTIA administers changes to the authoritative root zone file – the database containing the lists of names and addresses of all top-level domains – and serves as the historic steward of the Domain Name System. NTIA currently contracts with ICANN to carry out the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions and has a cooperative agreement with Verisign under which it performs related root zone management functions. ICANN’s government contract expires September 30, 2015. NTIA has indicated that ICANN’s transition plan must adhere to four principles. It must:
- Support and enhance the multistakeholder model
- Maintain the security, stability, and resiliency of the Internet DNS
- Meet the needs and expectations of the global customers and partners of the IANA services
- Maintain the openness of the internet
In this Teleforum, we discussed the implications of this pending transition and its potential impact on a free and open internet.
- Hon. John M.R. Kneuer, President and Founder, Kneuer LLC
- Patricia J. Paoletta, Partner, Wiltshire & Grannis LLP
[Listen now!] Telecommunications & Electronic Media Practice Group Podcast
In December 2013, Rep. Fred Upton, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman, and Rep. Greg Walden, Chairman of the Committee's Communications and Technology Subcommittee, announced plans to use 2014 to begin a review process leading to an update of the Communications Act of 1934. Rep. Walden announced in a news release that the committee plans “to look at the Communications Act and all of the changes that have been made piecemeal over the last 89 years and ask the simple question: ‘Is this working for today’s communications marketplace?’” The statute has not been changed in any material way since 1996, when the internet was just beginning to be used on a widespread basis and broadband services were only then emerging.
The participants in this Teleforum addressed fundamental questions, such as: whether an update to the Communications Act is needed and why; if an update is desirable, what a new Communications Act should like, including, more specifically, how the structure of the act should be changed along with the jurisdiction of the Federal Communications Commission.
- Mr. Shawn H. Chang, Majority Counsel, Communications and Technology Policy, Committee on Energy and Commerce, United States House of Representatives
- Mr. Randolph J. May, President, The Free State Foundation
- Mr. David Redl, Chief Counsel for Communications and Technology, Committee on Energy and Commerce, U.S. House of Representatives