Robert McDowell is a Commissioner of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC). He started serving the FCC as a Commissioner in 2006, when former President George W. Bush appointed him. He was re-appointed by President Barack Obama and the Senate unanimously confirmed his appointment in 2009. As Commissioner, his priority is to ensure competition and innovation within communications sectors and ensure companies provide choices and reasonable prices for consumers. He is involved in the development and implementation of policies and regulation for the internet, radio and television industry. His term as Commissioner will expire in 2014.
Commissioner McDowell's parents were the late Hobart McDowell, Jr., an author and senior editor of National Geographic, and the late Martha Louise Shea McDowell, a public relations executive of the Washington Post. He lives in the same farm where he grew up in Fairfax County, Virginia with his wife Jennifer and their three children.
He received his BA from Duke University and his JD from the Marshall-Wythe School of Law at the College of William and Mary.
McDowell started his career as chief legislative assistant of Virginia House of Delegates Robert T. Andrews after graduating college from Duke University. In 1990, he joined the Washington offices of Arter & Hadden, a Cleveland-based law firm after receiving his degree in law. He left the law firm after three and became Senior Vice-president and General Counsel the of America's Carriers Telecommunications Association (ACTA), a communications service trade organization. He served as vice president of Competitive Telecommunications Association (CompTel) when ACTA merged with the company in 1999. As vice president of the company, he strongly advocated and lobbied the different telecommunication issues to the Congress and FCC. In 2006, President Bush appointed him as FCC Commissioner and re-appointed by Pres. Obama in 2009. One of his primary duties as FCC Commissioner under the Obama administration is to expand the broadband service in the United States that has limited or no service.
Stand on Internet Issues
In February 2012, Commissioner McDowell published a statement condemning the proposal from Russia, China, and their allies to create an "international control" over the Internet through the United Nations' International Telecommunications Union (ITU). He strongly noted that the existing multistakeholder governance model, which is a consensus-driven private-sector approach, has been the key to the phenomenal success of the internet. According to him, an intergovernmental control over the Internet will prevent innovation, growth, national sovereignty and global free trade and expansion of cross border technology. He encouraged all advocates of internet freedom and prosperity in countries worldwide to engage in a more effective strategy-a dialogue with all interested parties including governments and the ITU. The goal is to "broaden the multi-stakeholder umbrella with the goal of reaching consensus to address reasonable concerns." He also reminded the U.S. government to act and select a representative to the treaty negotiation.
During the 2012 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Commissioner McDowell reiterated his position regarding internet governance, that an intergovernmental regulatory body is counterproductive and will only threaten the architecture and future of the Internet. He acknowledge the fact that it is necessary to modify the current governance structure of in the face of controversies and complaints surrounding ICANN, particularly the new gTLD expansion program and its' approval to the .xxx TLD. However, he said that these issues "should not be used as a pretext to end the multi-stakeholder model which has served all nations and the developing world now more than ever-so well." He also added, "A balkanized Internet would be devastating to global free trade and rising living standards. It would also render an engineering morass. Nations that value freedom and prosperity should draw a line in the sand against new regulations while welcoming reform that could include a non-regulatory role for the ITU. Venturing into the uncertainty of a new regulatory quagmire will only undermine developing nations the most. As a world community, we cannot afford to make that mistake."
Net Neutrality Regulation
In December 2010, the FCC approved the net neutrality regulations that would prohibit high-speed internet service providers to block customer access to legal content, applications or services. The regulation also requires internet companies to provide more information to consumers regarding their network operations. According to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, the rules “ensure that the Internet remains a powerful platform for innovation and job creation, to empower consumers and entrepreneurs, and protect free expression.” However, Commissioner McDowell voted against it and he enumerated four reasons to support his position: 
- Nothing is broken in the Internet access market that needs fixing.
- The FCC does not have the legal authority to issue net neutrality rules.
- The rules are likely to cause irreparable harm.
- Existing law and Internet governance structures provide ample consumer protection in the event a systemic market failure occurs.
- Biography of Commissioner Robert McDowell
- Robert McDowell Crunchbase Profile
- Robert M. McDowell Profile
- The U.N. Threat to Internet Freedom
- FCC Commissioner: Ending ICANN Could Lead to "an Engineering Morass"
- FCC approves net neutrality regulations
- DISSENTING STATEMENT OF COMMISSIONER ROBERT M. McDOWELL