The FCC’S Net Neutrality Ruling

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CLE Credits earned: 1 GEN

This program will focus on the state of Internet regulation in the United States following the Federal Communications Commission’s 2017 Restoring Internet Freedom Declaratory Ruling, Report and Order, and Order. In that ruling, the FCC reversed a prior (2015) FCC decision to classify broadband Internet access service as a telecommunications service subject to Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 (applicable to communications common carriers) and reclassifying broadband Internet access service as an information service subject only to a light handed regulatory scheme under Title I of the Communications Act. Based on that reclassification, the FCC in 2017 rescinded several of its 2015 rules which prohibited blocking, throttling and paid prioritization of Internet content. The FCC retained, albeit in modified form, a rule requiring transparency by Internet service providers The FCC also eliminated a general conduct standard formal complaint procedures to adjudicate Internet access disputes, and advisory opinions. What regulatory authority remains over Internet access is being transferred from the FCC to the Federal Trade Commission.

The program will address the history of Internet regulation – how we got to where it stands today; how the new regulatory scheme will impact the three categories of stakeholders: 1) Internet Service Providers; 2) Internet application and content providers (sometimes called “edge” providers); and 3) consumers. It will also discuss potential future developments, including court appeals of the FCC decision, federal legislation, and state legislative and executive actions to re-impose some form of “Net Neutrality” regulation at the state level. It will also address the viability of antitrust litigation as a remedy for abusive conduct by Internet Service Providers.

Date / Time: August 15, 2018

•   10:00 am – 12:00 pm Eastern
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•   7:00 am – 9:00 am Pacific

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Original Broadcast Date: August 15, 2018

Mitchell (Rick) Brecher, Esq. is a shareholder at the international law firm Greenberg Traurig, LLP where he heads the firm’s telecommunications practice. He has spent nearly four decades practicing telecommunications law holding positions at several leading telecom companies and, since 1987, has been engaged in private practice.

Prior to entering the private sector, Mr. Brecher was an attorney with the Federal Communications Commission where we was involved in some of that agency’s seminal decisions which opened telecom markets to competition. Mr. Brecher represents wireless and wireline telecom companies, electronic media companies, Internet service providers, Internet content and applications providers, device manufacturers, and corporate users of telecom products and services. His practice includes representation before the FCC, state utility commission, trial and appellate courts. He also is involved in transactional matters on behalf of telecommunications providers and entities such as real estate developers who are engaged in transactions with telecom providers. Mr. Brecher was graduated from Franklin and Marshall College and from the George Washington University Law School.

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Section I. A summary of the history of Net Neutrality and of governmental actions to regulate Internet services

Section II. The Net Neutrality Rules – what they required; what they prohibited

Section III. What happens next?
a) Judicial review
b) Federal legislation
c) State legislation

Section IV. To what extent will access to Internet content and applications be based upon contractual negotiations rather than regulation?

Section V. What are the prospects for federal preemption of state efforts to impose Internet regulation?