A former FCC chair is now advising Obama on intelligence

August 29

(Photo by gregelin)

Just months after he left the Obama administration, former Federal Communications Commission chair Julius Genachowski is heading back into it.

This time, Genachowski will be taking up a post on President Obama's intelligence advisory board, a small panel that provides counsel on America's spy agencies. Genachowski is among Obama's longest-serving advisers; a classmate of Obama's at Harvard Law School, he was tapped in 2008 to lead the then-senator's tech policy working group during the 2008 presidential campaign.

As head of the FCC, Genachowski made a number of policy decisions that we're still grappling with today: a push to implement net neutrality rules on Internet providers, an effort to convince broadcasters to sell off wireless airwaves to cellular companies and approval of a big merger between Comcast and NBC Universal. Industry insiders have said that while Genachowski was a consensus-builder at the agency, the tendency to compromise sometimes came at the expense of meaningful progress.

But ultimately, none of that is likely to matter on Obama's intelligence board. It's Genachowski's groundwork on cybersecurity issues at the FCC that Obama is likely interested in, according to Adm. James Barnett, a former head of the FCC's Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau.

"In a lot of ways, he started the FCC on its cybersecurity path. Some of the things Chairman Wheeler's doing now [on cybersecurity] is based on work that was done" by Genachowski," said Barnett. "With all of the stuff going on in cybersecurity and how that affects intelligence — that makes a lot of sense to me."

 

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Brian Fung covers technology for The Washington Post.
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