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    January 7, 2011  
 
NET NEUTRALITY

 

It's all the buzz these days in telecom practices. We sat down with former FCC GC Sam Feder for his take on the recent FCC Net Neutrality rules.

 
Former FCC GC Sam Feder, now co-chair of Jenner Block's communications practice.

We snapped Sam, now Jenner & Block's communications co-chair, with farewell mementos from the FCC and DOJ. He tells us the rules’ substance is unlikely to change, but it's “more likely than not” that the courts will strike them down (especially because the FCC based its argument for jurisdiction closely on last year’s unsuccessful attempt). Sam reps the record industry on net neutrality and Cablevision on the broadband reclassification issue—he tells us reclassifying could have given the FCC a stronger basis for the regulatory action.

 
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Former FCC GC Sam Feder, now co-chair of Jenner Block's Communications practice.

What if the rules stick around? Anti-discrimination regulations apply to only fixed wireline networks, not wireless, but Sam says the discrimination in quality and speed of different vendors' service that concerns consumer groups probably won’t be an issue. He also feels it might be best not to have to specific rules on net neutrality, so both companies and the government will be “a little on edge." Bottom line: He says we're sure to see plenty of litigation before the rules are clarified.


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WHAT'S PRIVATE THESE DAYS?
 
Reed Smith's Amy Mushahwar and Judy Harris in the firm's 13th and K St. DC office.

We dropped by Reed Smith’s 13th and K digs on Tuesday to speak with Amy Mushahwar and Judy Harris about the FTC privacy report. (Above, the two aren’t preparing to eat breakfast: The mock “Server Crunch” cereal box is a memento from one of Judy’s antitrust cases.) Judy, a former DC office managing partner, focuses on telco and antitrust matters; Amy’s in the firm’s data privacy practice. Since the preliminary privacy report debuted, the duo's been working into the wee hours with the FTC, Hill, Commerce, and clients. Amy says the Hill’s exploring how to best advance privacy without stifling innovation and the economy. Since privacy issues tend to be less partisan than most, Judy tells us they're expecting movement (eg, legislation aimed at creating a national data breach standard).

Reed Smith's Amy Mushahwar in the firm's 13 and K St. DC office.

We snapped Amy with a photo of her 11-month-old baby and Santa. She spent baby’s first Christmas and New Year’s here in DC, while Judy got away to Renaissance Weekend in Charleston, an invite-only gathering popularized by the Clintons. They agree the FTC’s proposed browser-based Do Not Track mechanism is a complex issue—and possibly unnecessary. Judy tells us the idea's momentum depends on how well the private sector independently accommodates consumers’ privacy demands: If they facilitate transparency, DNT may not gain traction. A decade ago, the Do Not Call list went in the opposite direction and left companies scrambling to comply. Amy and Judy say increased digital literacy and a forward-looking mindset on privacy and cyber security will benefit companies and consumers alike. (FTC’s inviting comments on the issue until Jan. 31—just don’t send them spam.)


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SNR DENTON'S SIXKILLER
 
Recent SNR Denton Indian Law and Tribal Representation practice add, Casey Sixkiller, in the firm's 13th and K St. office.

From Reed Smith’s 12th floor space, we popped downstairs to chat with recent SNR Denton add to the Indian Law and Tribal Representation practice, Casey Sixkiller. (The lifelong football fan picked up that New Yorker artwork while on Martha’s Vineyard.) Casey’s repped Indian tribes from every angle: directly working for the Cherokee Nation, of which he’s a citizen; addressing Native American affairs as a staffer for Sen. Patty Murray; consulting as EVP of McBee Strategic Consulting; and president of his own firm, a role he’ll maintain while with SNR Denton. He’s the fourth Native American to recently join the practice; the other three are in San Fran and Kansas City. Another SNR Denton lawyer and a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Tracey LeBeau, was recently appointed to lead DOE’s newly created Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs.

Recent SNR Denton Indian Law and Tribal Representation practice add, Casey Sixkiller, in the firm's 13th and K St. office.

We snapped Casey with a traditional painting his wife found vacationing in Alaska, and a bobblehead of his father, former University of Washington football star Sonny Sixkiller. After being in government, Casey tells us he’s looking forward to seeing how issues look at ground level. A recent case helped Washington’s Suquamish tribe protect their fishing and treaty rights from a multimillion Navy construction project, setting a precedent for how the government deals with tribal negotiations. Casey says the 2010 Cobell settlement, Tribal Law and Order Act, and Indian Health Care Improvement Act have been steps forward, but issues persist: sustainable economies, energy, and gaming are on the agenda.

 
We want to know what you have in the works for 2011. Send projects, predictions, and presents (just going with the 'p' alliteration) to DC legal reporter Roksana Slavinsky, roksana@bisnow.com.
 
 
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