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Former Aide Has Had ‘a Lot of Different Seats’

During her five years at the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, Jessica Rosenworcel helped assess the nation’s communications needs a decade after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the public safety interest in spectrum policy. She has served since May on the Federal Communications Commission, where she previously was a legal adviser to then-Commissioner Michael J. Copps. She also has worked as a telecom lawyer at a private firm.

The 41-year-old is the mother of two young children who she says are “bound to be digital natives.” She insists she has time for little else than work, but she does enjoy the occasional concert by the acoustic pop band Guster. Her younger brother is the drummer.

How did your experience on the Hill prepare you for this job?

I’ve seen communications policies from a lot of different seats. I think that helps assess issues before me, as a matter of law, as a matter of policy, and as a matter of practical politics — which is something I think you get the benefit of education in if you spend some time working on Capitol Hill.

What relationship do you think the FCC should have with Congress?

It is important for congressionally created agencies to be cooperative with Capitol Hill, operate under their independent authority, but keep faithful to statutes and an open ear to the ideas of our elected representatives.

Is public safety a focus for you as commissioner?

The first duty of the public servant is public safety. I think this agency has enormous responsibility for fostering economic growth and connectivity in the digital age, but we want to be sure that the advances we see in commercial communications can also benefit public safety.

How do you feel about the challenges facing the FCC in wireless and broadband policy?

Technology is changing at a breathtaking pace. The laws and regulations are going to have to struggle to keep up. We’re going to have to approach all these tasks with some humility and some recognition that innovation can swiftly invert what we think we know. But it’s an exciting time, too.

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