AUWCL Welcomes Former FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn
Oct. 16, 2018
On Tuesday, Oct. 16, American University Washington College of Law welcomed Mignon Clyburn, former Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner and Acting Chairwoman, to campus for a fireside chat to discuss the role of the FCC within a growing and changing communications technology landscape.
“As is the case with every new generation of innovation and technology, today’s evolving methods of communication pose some challenges, in addition to opportunities,” said Dean Camille Nelson during her opening remarks. “Communication technologies can be used to divide us, to misinform us, to keep us off our game. As such we, especially lawyers and those who care about the law and the rule of law, must remain vigilant in this space.”
FCC Associate Bureau Chief in the Media Bureau Holly Saurer ’00 moderated the event, where Clyburn discussed a variety of topics including 5G deployment, consumer privacy, the digital divide in broadband infrastructure, net neutrality, the importance of local television, and the consolidation of the news media industry.
“If it’s so consolidated until it's homogenized when it comes to coverage, then how do I find out what’s going on around the corner, or at the state house or at the town hall?” Clyburn said. “In a lot of ways, you have to work hard to find out what’s going on around the corner, and that shouldn’t be...It leaves you, in terms of the decision maker, at a real disadvantage. We need more inflow of relevant information of what’s going on in our communities."
Clyburn is currently one of the 2018 Leadership in Government Fellows at Open Society Foundations, working to eliminate predatory rates for prison phone services in order to provide easier communication between those incarcerated and their families.
“There are 2.7 million children, and millions more individuals and adults, that are impacted by the unjust, unreasonable rates that are being charged to them when they attempt to make a phone call. So much so, that only 38 percent of families keep in touch on a regular basis,” Clyburn said. “The FCC, the state and local governments, Congress – we’ve got the ability to tame that.”
The event was presented by the Communications and Media Law Society, the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property, the Program on Law and Government, the Women and the Law Program, the Administrative Law Review, the American University Intellectual Property Brief, Information Security & Privacy Law Society, and the American Constitution Society.