Neal Goldberg

Goldberg’s skills were tested in 2017, with the seasoned attorney facing open internet battles along with the renewal of the voluntary agreement for set-top box energy efficiency. The latter required him to work with all sectors of the pay TV industry, including DBS, telco TV providers and device manufacturers, as well as energy advocates such as NRDC. His golden rule is to stay informed.  “Put yourself in the other party’s shoes so you can better understand the positions they are taking and gain insight into areas where they may ultimately be flexible,” he says. He expects the coming year to bring many IoT challenges, including issues related to cybersecurity and privacy.

What have been the most important legal issues in communications for you in the past year?
Working with the NCTA team and others on Open Internet issues at the FCC and in the courts; and negotiating renewal of the award-winning Voluntary Agreement for Set-top Box Energy Efficiency with all sectors of the pay TV industry (cable, DBS, telco TV providers and device manufacturers) and energy efficiency advocates such as NRDC.

What new legal issues do you expect in 2018?
Internet of Things (IoT) issues including cybersecurity in all of its manifestations and privacy issues.

What is your golden rule for negotiating?
Prepare for each session by learning all you can about the other party’s key issues. Put yourself in the other party’s shoes so you can better understand the positions they are taking and gain insight into areas where they may ultimately be flexible.  Don’t reject any proposal outright but be prepared to hold your ground on a limited number of issues critical to your client. Treat the other party as you would want the other party to treat you.

If you could be remembered for just one case, which case would that be and why?
Participation in the development of the 2012 Voluntary Agreement for set-top box energy efficiency which energy efficiency advocates joined in 2013. The Set-top Box Agreement established rigorous new energy efficiency standards for set-top boxes that an independent auditor found had, by the end of 2016, already saved consumers more than $2 billion in energy costs and avoided 11.8 million metric tons of CO2 emissions. As a result of the set-top box agreement, the US Department of Energy terminated its then-pending rulemaking proceeding with the Energy Secretary saying that “a collaborative approach among the Department of Energy, the pay-TV industry and energy efficiency groups … will save families money by saving energy, while delivering high-quality [devices] for consumers that keep pace with technological innovation.”  The Agreement was named “Project of the Year” by Environmental Leader, a leading daily trade publication covering energy, environmental and sustainability news, and was hailed by Senator Dianne Feinstein “as a big win for nearly every American” because government regulation could not have produced as much savings as quickly as the Agreement did. This Agreement was followed in 2015 by an Industry Voluntary Agreement for energy efficiency of Small Network equipment (e.g., cable modems, routers). Both Agreements were able to secure energy savings more quickly and effectively than regulation could have and permitted industry parties to deploy new features and types of equipment without advance permission. The success of both Agreements in achieving substantial energy savings without undermining innovation show the effectiveness of voluntary, private sector-driven agreements in providing alternatives to government regulatory efforts.

What’s the biggest sleeper issue in communications?
Cybersecurity, particularly the ramifications of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which is effective on May 25, 2018.

What movie superhero would you most like to be and how would that character fit into the legal world of communications?
Captain Planet (and the Planeteers). Consistent with my work on energy efficient solutions for cable equipment, Captain Planet (and the Planeteers) defend the planet from environmental harms and make efforts to educate everyone on environmental issues.  In situations that the Planeteers cannot resolve alone, they can combine their powers to summon Captain Planet who possesses all of their powers magnified. Once his work is done, Captain Planet returns to the planet, and leaves viewers with the message: “The power is yours!” I assume he is talking about all of the power saved from Voluntary Energy Efficiency Agreements.

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